ATHENS — On Wednesday, April 14, two Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft landed in Greece, the latest result of a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to strengthen the capabilities and efficiency of the National Center for Emergency Care’s (EKAV) air ambulance services.
This follows the March 3, 2021, delivery of two Augusta Westland 109 Trekker helicopters.
This $18 million grant is part of SNF’s $500 million-plus Health Initiative and aims to help ensure prompt, safe air transport for ill and injured patients from remote areas of Greece to central treatment locations across the country and Europe.
SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos said, “Our goal in making a grant to strengthen EKAV’s air ambulance services as part of the SNF Health Initiative is to help reach those who might otherwise be excluded from access to health care and give peace of mind to people in Greece who live in areas remote from critical health services. The new aircraft allow for the swift transport of anyone in need to central healthcare locations and offer EKAV’s staff the infrastructure necessary to perform their work safely and effectively.”
The Beechcraft King Air 350 airplanes are equipped with state-of-the-art air navigation instruments, and their cabins were adapted for health care use by specialists at a world-leading company in the field. The aircraft provide capacity to transport two patients at the same time and feature a specialized mechanism for lifting stretchers to ensure safe entry and exit for ill and injured patients. Furthermore, the aircraft include incubator transport infrastructure to carry newborns, as well as a negative pressure capsule to transport people with infectious diseases.
Implementation of the grant was made possible through collaboration between SNF and the Hellenic Ministry of Health, which will have ownership of the aircraft; EKAV, which will use them; and the Hellenic Air Force, which will assist in flight operations. The Air Force is already implementing training programs for flight and technical personnel so that the aircraft can be put to use as soon as possible.
Greek Minister of Health Vasilis Kikilias said, “The two state-of-the-art new aircraft provided through the grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation will enhance the capacity of the National Center for Emergency Care’s air ambulance services to be there, safely, wherever they are needed in our country. The Ministry of Health goes where there is need, especially for the most vulnerable among our fellow citizens. I thank the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and its President, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, for the generous support, which adds to an ongoing and multifaceted initiative demonstrating the highest level of social responsibility.”
The SNF grant will contribute to a substantial upgrade in EKAV’s services and to significant resource savings. The new aircraft will be used exclusively by EKAV, helping it better fulfill its mission and providing its specialist air ambulance staff—including flying doctors, rescuers and nurses—with the most up-to-date medical equipment.
In addition to reinforcing EKAV’s air transport capabilities, the SNF Health Initiative in Greece includes support for the design, construction and outfitting of three new hospitals in Komotini, Sparta and Thessaloniki; PET/CT scanners for four regional hospitals; lab equipment, educational and research programs, and scholarships for the Nursing Department at NKUA and the educational Nursing Units at Evangelismos Hospital to strengthen the nursing sector; training programs for the prevention of in-hospital infections and the treatment of trauma (ATCN, PHTLS, ATLS, APLS); a project to revamp child and adolescent mental health care; infrastructure upgrades at Attikon Hospital; and equipment for the School of Dentistry at NKUA.