Brazilian Air Force Uses Night Vision Goggles in a Real Rescue Mission for First Time
By Dialogo August 13, 2013
The Pelican Squadron of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), in Campo Grande (Mato Grosso state), used night vision goggles (NVG) for the first time in a real rescue mission. The use of the equipment played a decisive role in the health of 59-year-old Nicéia Gomes, who suffered a pelvic fracture on July 27, and had to be urgently transferred to a hospital at night.
Nicéia fell off a horse on a farm, 280 miles from the city of Campo Grande, in the middle of the Pantanal, a location with very difficult access. Ground or boat transportation could have worsened her health condition. Upon the Fire Department’s request, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) was contacted and a helicopter with six crew members, among them a doctor and a nurse, came to the rescue.
However, this was not an easy mission for the Pelican Squadron. “It was dark when we arrived at the location,” says Lieutenant Canedo. It was time, after four years of training, for the squadron to use the night vision goggles for the first time in a real rescue. “If we did not have this equipment, the rescue could only have been possible during day light,” explained the pilot.
Waiting was not the best option. Medic and Captain Mauro Pascale said he was already worried because the patient had suffered the fracture 24 hours prior, and had not received medical attention. When the helicopter arrived, the family members had already placed Nicéia in a truck in an attempt to take her to the ferry. “The initial medical care was provided inside the vehicle. Our main concern was how long the patient had to wait for the rescue,” recalls the doctor.
On board the helicopter, the crew monitored Nicéia, while an Emergency Mobile Medical Service team waited at the airport in Corumbá. The six-hour trip that the ferry would have taken turned out to be only a 40-minute trip.
“So that others may live”
The Pelican Squadron was founded in 1957 with this motto and a specific search and rescue mission. Currently, the unit is equipped with H-1H helicopters and SC-105 Amazonas airplanes, both used throughout the country.
In January of this year, the Pelican had setup the largest Intensive Care Unit ever used in Brazil inside the SC-105 Amazonas to help with the transportation of victims from the Kiss nightclub fire, in Santa Maria (Rio Grande do Sul state). Up to seven patients in serious condition were moved at the same time to Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), while accompanied by a medical team of 21 professionals on a flight lasting less than 40 minutes.