WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dr. Ola Orekunrin piloted a solution to fight the “silent epidemic” of trauma in West Africa. On holiday in Nigeria, her sister fell critically ill and died before an ambulance arrived. At 22, Orekunrin attended medical school with the intention to protect those like her sister. In five years, she established the first and only national air ambulance company in the region. She spoke with senior aviation officials in Nigeria, but not one believed she could succeed. The bureaucracy in Nigeria hindered others in the past. In some regions, phone lines barely work. Infrastructural issues like this require a large amount of funding. Though previous attempts invested millions, Orekunrin feels her drive and self-belief propels her forward. “Entrepreneurship is, I think, more about the factors that are inside you than outside,” Orekunrin said on NPR. As a physician, she observed and spoke with leaders of successful air ambulance services. In the past, businessmen invested in air ambulances in West Africa. Orekunrin, as a medical professional, believes these men failed because of the purpose; rather than investing for the money, she invested for the people. A young man lost his tongue, lips and most of his face in a bank robbery. In the early hours of the morning, Flying Doctors Nigeria arrived to airlift him to the hospital. He wrote on a pad, because the gunshot destroyed his apparatuses for speaking. He wrote “Please do not let my fiancée see me like this.” He thought she would not want to marry him. Yet Flying Doctors Nigeria flew him to a reputable hospital for a facial reconstruction, and he married his fiancée shortly afterwards. “…Seeing his wedding pictures was so emotional for me because I could remember exactly how he looked when the injury happened and how we managed to change his story,” Orekunrin said. Patients often require specialists or treatments abroad. This organization built relationships with top medical sites in twenty-two countries. A few partnering countries include the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
How Flying Doctors Nigeria Serves Trauma Victims
Every employee of Flying Doctors Nigeria earned a medical degree. As a result, necessary life-saving procedures can occur on the helicopter en-route to the hospital.
- Every employee of Flying Doctors Nigeria earned a medical degree. As a result, necessary life-saving procedures can occur on the helicopter en-route to the hospital.
- More than 20 chart aircraft’s available 24/7
- Physicians on duty 24/7, 365 days a year
- Earned 100 percent safety record, the best in the air ambulance industry
- Reports the shortest emergency response time, as short as 20 to 30 minutes
- Transports patients from major Nigerian cities, such as Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt
- Serves as the only air ambulance to land at all the top Nigerian hospitals