By Fred Vergneres
While Italy is paying a heavy price against the Covid-19, with more than 6,000 deaths to date, the country has set up a health alert with the Caesar HH-101s from the 9th Stormo of Grazzanise and the 15th Stormo of Cervia.
On March 6th, the regional emergency and rescue agency of Lombardy called upon the Italian Air Force to evacuate a 62-year-old patient suffering from the Coronavirus, transporting her from Cremona to the Morelli Hospital in Sondalo (Sondrio). This first mission was carried out from Cervia, headquarters of the 15th Stormo, specialized in SAR missions. The helicopter, with a specialised medical team on board for bio-containment transport, took off from Cervia shortly after receiving the mission order and reached the hospital in Cremona, where it loaded the patient. The aircraft then left again for Bormio, where a subsequent transfer was completed to the Morelli Hospital in Sondalo.
Initially dedicated to search and rescue missions in support of special operations, the 11 HH-101A Caesar aircraft of the Italian Air Force are also capable of loading and transporting special insulated stretchers, A.T.I. (Aircraft Transit Isolator), designed specifically for air transport in bio-containment of highly infectious patients. This modular system, equipped with respiratory equipment, allows the transport of patients in bio-containment mode. In addition to the HH-101A, the ATI modules have also been certified for use on the C-130J, C-27J and KC-767 of the Italian Air Force.
In the last two weeks, five such transports have been carried out by 15° Stormo, with the support of crews from 9 Wing Grazzanise, who also depart from the Cervia base to intervene in various locations throughout the Italian territory.Since the first cases of the contagion were observed in the north of Italy, the Armed Forces have provided, for possible health surveillance, military infrastructures spread over the entire peninsula. From Valle d’Aosta to Sicily, about 2200 rooms and approximately 6600 beds, including their own medical staff from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri, have been provided at the request of the Civil Defense in order to meet the needs of the Lombard territories. According to the Italian Ministry of Defense, “this operational alert is expected to last more than a month. »