Kenya launches ambulance service for security forces


Kenya has launched its first national air ambulance service to evacuate security forces wounded in battle.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the service was vital to ensure they received swift treatment.

The initiative is likely to boost the morale of security personnel facing multiple threats, a BBC reporter says.

Some soldiers and policemen have bled to death or have died of dehydration in remote areas of Kenya because of long delays in getting them to hospital.

The BBC’s Wanyama Chebusiri in the capital, Nairobi, says the government has now reached a deal with the Red Cross and private firm AMREF Flying Doctors to despatch helicopters and vehicles as soon as distress calls are received.

The new evacuation service will also be offered to civil servants, especially those who work in the security field in rural areas with few medical facilities, our reporter says.

Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has stepped up attacks in Kenya in recent years.

Last month, the militants killed 64 people in two attacks in the north-eastern region of Mandera, which borders Somalia.

Kenya security personnel take cover outside the Westgate Mall after shooting started inside the mall early Monday morning, on 23 September 2013
Kenya’s security forces struggle to get treatment in remote areas

“This is a crucial service, especially for our security officers, who put themselves on the front line against our enemies, to ensure that Kenyans are safe wherever they are,” Mr Kenyatta said at the launch in Nairobi.

Our reporter says the security forces are also battling bandits and cattle rustlers in the north-western Samburu region, which is known as the “Valley of Death”.

In 2012, more than 40 security officers were killed in the area and it took more than two days to rescue the injured, he says.