To ensure air ambulance preparedness in Northern Norway, the government has decided to extend the stationing of the Armed Forces Bell helicopter in Kirkenes until April 15.
“Aircraft ambulance operator Babcock has had challenges in establishing safe air ambulance preparedness in Northern Norway. The location of the Armed Forces helicopter in Kirkenes has therefore been important in strengthening this preparedness, especially to ensure life and health in East Finnmark. The outbreak of the disease in Christmas at Babcock's bases in Alta and Kirkenes clearly showed how important this helicopter is.
“I have instructed the health regions to find a solution to deploy a temporary ambulance helicopter on a temporary basis in Kirkenes during the winter. Until this happens, the Armed Forces helicopter will be located in Finnmark. Health Nord will also assess the need for a permanent ambulance helicopter in Kirkenes,” says Minister of Health Bent Høie.
It is Helse Nord who has requested to extend the station of the Armed Forces Bell helicopter in Kirkenes until April 15. To further ensure air ambulance preparedness, an additional jet aircraft has also been placed in Tromsø which relieves the short-haul aircraft and strengthens the preparedness for Svalbard.
“The government has considered the request for continued use of the Armed Forces Bell helicopter for air ambulance preparedness in Finnmark, and found that the considerations for life and health weigh so heavily that the station is extended until April 15,” says Minister of State for Defense, Monica Maeland.
Prime Minister Mæland has been appointed as State Secretary for Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen in handling this matter.