Senegalese Arc en Ciel has been experiencing a lot of medevac activity recently, as holidaymakers in west Africa have fallen ill. “A lot of people need our assistance if they become ill in west Africa because there are very few hospitals in these countries,” explains chief pilot Guillaume Nicot. “As well as these medical flights and VIP we perform some government flights too. We have all the approvals that we need to carry out these flights throughout western Africa.
“There are some other companies springing up and establishing themselves in southern Europe and western Africa, and they have taken part of the market, especially the mining work. The situation is not straightforward in our region.”
Nicot describes a typical medical flight scenario: “When we have an insurance company request for a medical flight they ask for the cost and how long the flight will take. They have an approval process which can take several hours. When it is OK with them we request a flight authorisation, meet our medical crew and, one hour after the initial approval, we are able to take off and take care of the passenger.
“We have to facilitate the delivery of the patient on the tarmac. Sometimes the ambulance will come to pick up my crew to go the hospital to prepare the patient for the flight.”
Inside the aircraft he says he has 'the best hospital in western Africa'. He negotiates with the handling company and arranges an ambulance to take the patient on their onward journey.