Text & Pictures : Luc Dujardin © sbap 2011

Bra-sur-Lienne is a small village in the countryside of the province Liège. Bra is approximately located at the center of a big area made of the three provinces: Namur, Liège and Luxembourg. But things are different here because the village has a hangar with a helicopter. Since 1986 there is a medical urgency center at Bra that includes a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) since 1997. Bra is the home base of Centre médical héliporté ASBL (CMH). CMH operates a SMUR medical ambulance and one helicopter. Bra is the center point of a red area where villages, towns, rescue centers and hospitals are sometimes quite far from each other. In this particular geographical context, rescue by road with ambulances needs more time, and sometimes too much time.  A helicopter is obviously the fastest way to come as close as possible to heavily injured people, pick them up and fly them to a hospital. The CMH helicopter needs maximum 15 minutes to reach the most remote point of its working area.

CMH ASBL is being run by a staff of 3 persons. The medical team consists of 10 doctors and 9 nurses. Doctors and nurses assure a round the clock watch while pilots are standby during 72 hours . The Helicopter operated by CMH is the Eurocopter EC-145 cn 9083 registered OO-NHB. It is the property of Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV), helicopter operator society based at Oostende airport. OO-NHB entered into service by CMH at the end of 2006. The ship has +/- 1900 flying hours.

The helicopter always flies with a crew of 1 pilot, 1 doctor and 1 nurse. The helicopter is in standby on a rolling platform placed on the parking area in front of the hangar. The platform is moved by a car to pull or push the helicopter in or out the hangar. OO-NHB has always fuel enough for 3 scrambles. Once scrambled by the 112 dispatching, the crew is airborne within 2 or 3 minutes. The helicopter is refuelled after each flight. It can fly in the evening or by night and is equipped with a xenon search light “Night Sun”. In the future, the pilots will possibly use night vision goggles. At the present time, to land by night, about a fourth of a football field has special lighting and with a sms code send by the helicopter crew, the lights can be switched on. On an average day the helicopter has to perform around 3 scrambles. But in winter, the bad weather limits the number of interventions. In summer however, it happens that there are upto 7 or 8 scrambles in a 24 hours period. An average intervention takes between 40 minutes and 1 hour.

During the year 2010, OO-NHB has flown 1178 interventions and made 455 flying hours.

Acknowledgements :
Special thanks for their kindness and their helpfulness to Mr Olivier Pirotte (operational coordinator)
and to Jean-Louis (pilot) and the medical team we met when visiting the CMH.

 More informations : http://www.centremedicalheliporte.be

Bra-sur-Lienne a little Belgian village The "Spirit of St Luc" is always present in the medical world
The instalations with the hangar A medical center in a real green area
The famous rolling platform tracted by a car
The Eurocopter EC-145 in MEDEVAC version, the life guard of the Ardennes
Glass cockpit View of the cabin
Great side doors Fully equiped for medical purposes
The crew helmet is planned to be equipped with NVG (Night Vision Gogles) The technical assistance
Emergency ! Pilot preparing for scramble take off
Maximum 3 minutes are needed to take off
Back to the base...a life is saved !
Mission accomplished, ready for the next one
See also our walkaround pages : EC-145



Back    -    Home