Published On: Mon, Apr 6th, 2020

Dutch fly in medical assistance

Air Transport Plane Dutch Medical Equipement Supplies - 2020040502 LB

PHILIPSBURG – A C-17 transport plane has arrived in St. Maarten with emergency aid and equipment to treat corona-patients in the Caribbean part of the kingdom. The supplies and the equipment are not exclusively for patients in St. Maarten, but also for those from the BES-islands, Curacao and Aruba.

The plane carried a partially mobile hospital with six intensive-care beds and equipment to realize another six IC-beds at the St. Maarten Medical Center.

Furthermore, the C-17 brought protective gear for doctors and nurses, medication for corona-patients and medical equipment.

State Secretary for Public Health, Welfare and Sport Paul Blokhuis was quoted in a press release from the defense ministry as saying: “There is continuous consultation with all stakeholders in European Netherlands and the Caribbean part of the kingdom. Together we are working very hard to contain the spread of the corona-virus as much as possible and to take care of corona-patients to the best of our abilities.”

The additional medical capacity that is now available on St. Maarten also requires the deployment of more medical staff. The Netherlands is in the process of making agreements with an unidentified international company that detaches medical professionals. The first team of doctors and nurses is expected to arrive on the island in the course of the week.

The Dutch government decided to extend assistance to the islands at the advice of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu – RIVM). The institute is of the opinion that strengthening the medical capacity for the islands is of the highest priority.

The C17 transport plane is stationed at the Heavy Airlift Wing Pàpa in Hungary. The Netherlands is one of the participants in this multinational unit. The crew that flew to St. Maarten consisted of one Dutch soldier and others with American, Norwegian and Polish nationality.

British Navy Support ShipThe arrival of the plane occurred while there were concerns about the lack of action from the Dutch government, while other countries, like the united Kingdom and France seemed more pro-active. The United Kingdom sent the RFA Argus – the Primary Casualty Receiving ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (and the only hospital ship in the fleet) to the Caribbean to support British overseas territories during the upcoming hurricane season and to support the response to the corona-virus crisis. The French navy sent its Mistral Class LHD Dixmude from the Indian Ocean to the island of Mayotte. It will also available for assistance to the French Antilles, French Guyana and Reunion.French Navy Support Ship

At the same time, the two hospital ships of the Royal Dutch navy were located in the North Sea, with no obvious plans to sail to the Caribbean.

At the time of this writing the HNLMS Rotterdam and the HNLMS Johan de Witt were both in close proximity of each other on the North Sea (coordinates approximately 52.9 N – 4.8 E) – far from St. Maarten (coordinates approximately 18 N – 63 W).

Dutch amphibious warfare ship

The Rotterdam is a landing platform amphibious warfare ship; it has not only a large helicopter deck but also a Class II hospital with an operating theater and intensive care capability. A surgical team can be stationed on the ship. The Johan de Witt has similar facilities.