The history of air ambulance services in our country is inseparable from the history of domestic aviation as a whole. It dates back to the 1930s, the days the Soviet Union was seriously considering establishing a powerful fleet of aircraft designed to facilitate medical care.
The Second World War was a significant stage in the advancement of Russian air ambulance services. However, the peak of development of this section of the aviation industry was reached only after the war. It was during this period that the medical sector began more commonly using not just airplanes, but also helicopters, which had one important advantage – the ability to reach the most inaccessible places. And indeed, helicopters do not need a runway, and heliports can be mounted directly next to hospitals. But of course, aeroplanes were not altogether abandoned, and also began to be modified accordingly: they received bigger capacities, and their interiors were redesigned: now closed.
Some statistics: In 1968, the Soviet Union had 164 hospitals offering air ambulance services on planes such as the Let L-410 Turbolet and Antonov An-2, as well as the Tupolev Tu-104 and Antonov An-28. The Mil Mi-2 helicopter was also highly valued by Soviet physicians.
In the second half of the twentieth century, air ambulance services were under the Ministry of Health of the USSR, and since 1994, they fall under the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation.
Currently, Eurocopter liners and Ka-226 helicopters are being used for medical purposes.
There are a number of problems faced by Russian medical aviation today. Firstly, the aircraft operating costs are quite high. Secondly, there are a number of difficulties with obtaining flight permits. Thirdly, the infrastructure is sometimes out of order. It is also difficult to organise air night-time ambulance flights: meaning that night-time medical helicopter flights are impossible in the capital.
Hopefully, these problems will be resolved soon.