April 22, 2016 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Quick-thinking medical staff in Norway saved a patient’s life by calling in a Royal Norwegian air force F-16 to transfer live-saving medical equipment from across the country.
RNoAF F-16AM #682 from 338 skv is soaring over the runway at Ørland AB
On April 4, a dying patient in Bodø urgently needed a special lung and heart machine that oxygenates blood and removes carbon dioxid. The closest one available though was in Trondheim, 470 kilometers (290 miles) south.
Hospital officials turned to the RNoAF
for help, and luckily two F-16 fighters on a base nearby Trondheim were preparing to take off on a training mission. In a further stroke of good luck, one of the jets (#682
)was equipped with an travel pod which allowed to transport the machine. In an unusual life-saving mission, the so-called ECMO machine was loaded on to the aircraft and made Bodø in a record time.
“Usually we cover that distance in 35 minutes,” air squadron head Borge Kleppe told the Norwegian
daily Verdens Gang. “But given the special nature of the cargo, the pilot stepped on it and arrived at the destination less than 25 minutes later.”
The Norwegian air force has past used Hercules or DA20 cargo aircraft in medical emergencies in the past, but this was the first time an F-16 Fighting Falcon was commandeered.