Submitted by ANNE MARIE ABBAN-DEMITRUS
I was in 4X4 wheel drive with my mum seated at the back. We were heading back to Accra from
Cape-Coast (capital of Central Region) in Ghana. As usual being a Sunday evening there were a
lot of commuters returning to Accra city from funerals and other social programmes held in other regions. The problem, of course, was the stretch of road around a township called Kasoa
(bordering the Greater Accra Region). One could get locked up in traffic for close to 4 hours, a
period covering a return journey from Accra to Cape-Coast!!!
With the blistering heat of the sun and attendant depressive moods, it is no wonder that drivers
tend to drive albeit recklessly in their bid to beat the traffic. Driving at top speed on shoulders of the road, overtaking, dangerous cut-in are all part of the ‘seeming’ game of arriving back early in Accra. Unfortunately, this game is by private transport owners of mini urvans, whose profits areincreased by the number of trips one could make in a day with the ‘human cargo’.
Sunday was no different I watched in amazement as the mini urvans sped by, cutting in
from all angles to avoid vehicles in opposite direction. I prayed for them as some collisions were avoided by hairs breath. I missed one category of persons. Our society VIPs escorted by police motorcade on trips in and out of the city, who of course do not stay in traffic. These VIPs also move at top speed following their escorts with loud sirens announcing their approach and
sweeping all vehicles to the side for ease of their passage. Those smart mini urvan drivers are
quick to join the tail end of the motorcade, for a royal drive to the city. They were not alone as
some private cars craved the royal rides too. So on this day, the royal riders joined the tail end of a motorcade and zoomed past the traffic with cheeky ease. After about 20 minutes we could hearthe wailing and loud cries. An obvious commotion ahead.
Apparently, there was a police checkpoint ahead and these royal riding drivers had been stopped rather abruptly. They had slammed into one another, not being able to control the car at that speed.
I was not prepared for this; the sight that greeted us as we got closer to the wails and cries. Your guess as good as mine. A gory accident. I could see passengers cut and bleeding being moved out of a mini urvan. Some had passed on, others appeared to be breathing as they lay on the side of the road. I looked at the traffic ahead and wondered how long it would take for ambulance service to arrive and get them to hospital. I found tears roll down my face effortlessly as my emotions soured. I was in pain to see the life wasted in vain. But what could I do?
That is when I made up this vision of a flying ambulance. I had heard talk in school about flying
cars being considered by car producers. I did not fancy flying cars given how reckless drivers
could be, but I did pray for a flying ambulance. Just think what a flying equipped ambulance
could do? How many lives could be saved just by such a God-send? I just prayed developing
countries such as Ghana could consider the flying ambulance. It would have such an impact even in terms of medical outreach to the rural and peri-urban areas. A flying ambulance service would really help in saving lives. This is also for areas of poor road infrastructure.
At a speech given in August 2017, at one of Ghana’s premier public universities, the President
Nana Addo-Danquah Akuffo-Addo talked about the “alarming doctor-patient ratio of one doctor to 8000 patients” with it being more “lopsided in the rural and deprived communities”. This is because doctors have refused postings to rural and deprived areas due to the lack of road networks, good schools, electricity supply, and equipped clinics/hospitals. For want of crying aloud, I kept yelling silently, the flying ambulance. The miracle waiting to happen.
I dreamt out the distribution network of flying ambulance service. These flying ambulances
would serve a specified area coverage drawn to scale. The number of ambulances made available would depend on population density. The flying ambulances services would be categorized in terms of emergency response and mobile clinics. Then of course, flying ambulance accidents would be non-existent given the tracking system and demarcations. I dreamt that the doctors were more happy, to serve the country. Their needs would be addressed as they would not have to relocate their families to be with them in these areas. At the same time, they would serve the
needs of the underprivileged.
As I reveled in the help my magic wand could produce, I wondered if the flying ambulance could be designed to land on water as well. I saw myself as the supplier of local medical herbal
products on the flying ambulance contributing my quota to the flying ambulance service. The flying ambulance service would come to the aid of many in our poor, deprived and rural
I thought of the woman in labor who has to be carried to the waterfront and ferried across a
lake to the next town to attend hospital. I thought of babies that need to be vaccinated, the school child bitten by a scorpion or snake, road and water accident victims, and stemming disease outbreaks. I asked myself what is the technology for a flying ambulance service. Can an
ambulance be made to fly? I answered my question, some twenty years ago, mobile phones were not common in Ghana but today they are the most widely used communication gadgets.
In my dreams, the flying ambulance is a reality that must happen. It could be built locally and
make use of solar energy for inbuilt equipment. To be sure, such a logistic network of medical
services is something that should be replicated worldwide to reduce avoidable deaths. The flying ambulance service is my hope for the future.
Submitted by ANNE MARIE ABBAN-DEMITRUS
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