Emergency helicopter service seeks to expand
By Bill Charles
Saving lives that would otherwise be lost is the goal of the Medical Evacuation Service with Helicopter, which is now waging a fund-raising campaign to purchase a fixed wing aircraft to serve outer islands of Okinawa.
The NPO MESH Support is Japan’s only private organization experienced in operating medical aircraft, and provides services to sparsely populated, remote areas that cannot be accomplished by public services. MESH Support is funded by charitable donations, and they’re looking now for island-wide financial support to obtain a fixed wing aircraft to allow emergency services to be provided to outer islands after a traumatic situation.
The goal is to provide medical services within 15 minutes that is part of the ‘golden hour’ referred to by medical professionals as the time frame necessary to offer emergency medical treatment and reduce the number of lives lost. It is well established that prompt medical treatment will prevent death, and the patient’s chances of survival are greatest if they receive care with the short period of time after a severe injury.
Today’s concern is Yanbaru, the northern part of Okinawa that has a poor transportation infrastructure. This is problematic in an area where the demand is high for medical rescues by helicopter due to accidents involving tourists and high frequency accidents related to water activities and bike touring.
The existing MESH helicopter is based in Nago, able to serve most of Okinawa Island, reaching some closer outlying islands in the critical 15 minutes. A fixed wing aircraft would provide extended MESH services to outlying islands.
MESH support in emergencies averages 250 emergency flights per year, with current figures reflecting 72% to local residents, 20% to other prefecture residents, and 8% to individuals outside the prefecture and foreigners. Since its creation, MESH support has flown over 900 missions. In addition to the emergency flights, MESH can fly doctors, nurses and medical supplies to outlying areas, something the publicly funded medical helicopter emergency services cannot by law do. Transportation between facilities, supplies drops, assisting with decompression disease, and providing patrols and medical visits with medical specialists such as psychiatrists, pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists are vital services MESH offers.
Now, they’re looking for island-wide financial support in their campaign. Businesses are already involved, with both donations and contributions from sales of products.
Johnson Controls Building Efficiency Okinawa branch, which provides building solutions for local customers including the U.S. Military facilities on Okinawa, donated $3,000 (¥356,430) to MESH Support. A donation ceremony was April 13th at the MESH Support Heliport in Umosa, Nago-city. Hiroyuki Usui, Director of the Mechanical Engineering Division, Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls K.K. presented a check for $3,000 to MESH Support Director, Masahiro Kohama.
This donation was a part of Usui’s team in Okinawa receiving Johnson Control’s highest internal employee recognition award, the Chairman’s Award, which included a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The team won this award for its outstanding safety commitment. David Kuo, Okinawa Branch Manager of the Mechanical Engineering Division, spoke at the ceremony, “We wanted to contribute to organizations that support the local community. MESH Support provides essential support and why we decided to contribute.” Director Kohama thanked Johnson Control’s contribution and commented that the donation will be used for operations of the helicopter.
Okinawa branch will also donate to other three organizations such as a handicapped welfare service organization, engineering education support and to a U.S. military support organization to contribute to life saving and helping people need support. MESH is receiving support from Aeon and Max-value stores, Okinawa Japan Beverage Co., Ltd., Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Ltd., Okinawa, Okinawa Pepsi Beverage Co., Ltd., Okinawa Yakult Co., Ltd., and Okinawa UCC COFFEE INC. MESH also has three different decals available for a ¥500 donation each, of which ¥400 goes to the helicopter procurement project.
How can the public get involved? Very simply! Wire donations to the MESH Support Bank Account or contribute online.
The Bank of Okinawa Ltd., 402 Nago branch savings account, Account number 1625737, Nominee MESH Support. There are no transfer fee charges at the ATM Service Window. From the Post Office Bank, Account Number: 01770-5-135567, Nominee MESH Support. There are no transfer fees. On-line support allows donations and membership support which individuals and organizations can continually support by registering as members. Credit card payment is available to pay the annual membership fee and donations at http://www.meshsupport.jp/english/ www.meshsupport.net(in Japanese).
MESH Support and cloud founding is on facebook at https://readyfor.jp/projects/mesh. The deadline to accomplish the cloud funding target is June 1st.