The lifesaving and humanitarian side of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was again demonstrated this week when a 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter airlifted critically injured schoolchildren from an accident scene in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The rotary-winged aircraft was called on for a mercy mission on Tuesday after a bakkie transporting children to school overturned on a rural road in the Mandeni district. According to Major Mpho Mathebula of SA Air Force (SAAF) Corporate Communications there were 17 schoolchildren in the load bay of the bakkie.
“The severity of injuries and difficulty in accessibility of the crash site made the use of a helicopter essential. Six critically injured patients were airlifted by the 15 Squadron Oryx assisted by Air Mercy Service EMS.
The aircraft is normally based at AFB Durban, on the site of the old Durban International Airport, but was in Mkhuze detached for duty on Exercise Winter Solstice, which ends tomorrow. The exercise assesses combat readiness of the airborne service of the SANDF.
Six critically injured patients were taken to Eshowe, Albert Luthuli and Ngwelezane hospitals while other patients were treated at the crash site by SA Military Health Services (SAMHS) doctors and nurses assisted by IPSS paramedics. After treatment they were transported by road to local hospitals and clinics for further care and treatment.
The Oryx crew was led by flight commander Major Nhlakanipho Zungu, currently acting squadron officer commanding; co-pilot Captain Kenneth Ntuli and flight engineer WO2 Wade Sloane.