[Search and Rescue] “Airborne Medical Center (CMH) to air on Belgian television with a series of four reports”


This Friday, November 8th 2019, the “Helicopter Medical Centre” known as ‘Centre Médical Heliporté (CMH)’ will air on Belgian national television for a series of four reports under the call sign ‘112 Emergency Helicopter’.

The first report is scheduled for 19:50 on RTL-TVI television.

Teasers of the upcoming report: “Ready for take-off?” :

Background information on the non-profit organisation ‘Helicopter Medical Centre’ (also known as CMH)

A “Helicopter Medical Centre”? Belgium has two helicopters serving as an airborne medical centre, one in Wallonia and one in Flanders.

© Martin Gillet

As described on their website, the Helicopter Medical Centre also known as ‘CMH’ is “an emergency medical service and resuscitation by helicopter. It is located in Bra-sur-Lienne, at the geographical crossroads of the provinces of Liège, Luxembourg and Namur (Belgium).

The CMH responds to a public health need in the heart of Belgium’s most important demographic red zone. This area is characterised by two factors:

More than 15 minutes may elapse before a patient receives professional care from an emergency rapid response unit by road (also known as SMUR in french).
Any patient located in this region can be far away from hospital technical platforms specialised in the treatment of serious pathologies.

The CMH is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere in Belgium, for any urgent medical aid mission ordered by the 112. The medical helicopter can take off from its base in less than 4 minutes and act as a therapeutic accelerator in the overall care of any patient.”

This non-profit organisation is quite unique as self-funded thanks to its affiliates and donors. It does not receive any government grant or subsidies.

CMH helicopter (OO-NHB) as spotted in action in the area of La Roche-en-Ardenne during Summer.

© Martin Gillet

CMH operates an EC145 Helicopter.

According to Wikipedia which provides fair basis information, “The Eurocopter EC145 (now Airbus Helicopters H145) is a twin-engine light utility helicopter developed and manufactured by Eurocopter, which was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters in 2014. Originally referred to as the BK 117 C2, the EC145 is based upon the MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 C1, which became a part of the combined Eurocopter line-up in 1992 with the merger of Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm’s helicopter division of Daimler-Benz and the helicopter division of Aérospatiale-Matra to form Eurocopter.

© Martin Gillet

The EC145 is a twin-engine aircraft and can carry up to nine passengers along with two crew, depending on customer configuration. The helicopter is marketed for passenger transport, corporate transport, emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue, parapublic and utility roles. In 2015, the EC145 was rebranded as the H145 by Airbus Helicopters. Military variants of the helicopter have also been produced under various designations, such as H145M or UH-72, and have been used for training, logistics, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, light attack, and troop-transport operations.”

General characteristics from a normal EC145 (source Data from Eurocopter EC145 technical data, EC 145 specs)

Crew: 2
Capacity: 9 pax / 1,793 kg (3,953 lb) payload
Length: 13.03 m (42 ft 9 in)
Height: 3.45 m (11 ft 4 in)
Empty weight: 1,792 kg (3,951 lb)
Gross weight: 3,585 kg (7,904 lb)
Fuel capacity: 723.0 kg (1,593.9 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines, 550 kW (740 hp) each for take-off
Main rotor diameter: 11 m (36 ft 1 in)
Main rotor area: 95 m2 (1,020 sq ft) root: NACA 23012; tip: NACA 23010[116]

Cruise speed: 246 km/h (153 mph, 133 kn)
Never exceed speed: 268 km/h (167 mph, 145 kn)
Range: 680 km (420 mi, 370 nmi)
Ferry range: 855 km (531 mi, 462 nmi)
Service ceiling: 5,240 m (17,190 ft)
Rate of climb: 8.1 m/s (1,590 ft/min)

MNH EC145 Helicopter specifications are not known yet but it is widely known that thanks to the support of affiliates and sponsors, the helicopter is equipped with modern medical equipment in order to support fully the patient while airborne.

About the reports

Michaël Miraglia from RTL-TVI and his team joined the CMH in order to ‘seize the momentum’ and witness their daily activities. It is for sure no common routine.

We reached out to the producer of the reports, Sébastien Tonneau from Story Digital.

Sébastien explained that “along with other reports on emergency services, these reports on CMH are a continuity of their willingness to illustrate these specific services. Each report lasts 45 minutes and illustrates the daily life at the CMH. The team took nearly 6 months to shoot the reports, with an average of 2-3 days per week with CMH Crew”.

Sébastien also highlighted that “they wanted to give a tribute to this fantastic human project as it involves many skilled, dedicated resources, all self-funded”. Sébastien also relates ‘the professionalism of all parties involved at CMH, including the crew that handles all situations professionally within strict security guidelines (for examples, MNH helicopter can land on football fields which are equipped with automated lighting system). At all times, we have seen the dedication of these fine individuals ‘raising the bar’ and demonstrating the best example of ‘Team Work’. I was quite impressed.”

Furthermore, the non-profit organisation also provided a detailed blog post on the reason they wanted to reach out to the grand public, ‘as a picture is worth a thousand’ words.

Rules were simple as CMH outlined them in their blog post (source and credit) :

  • No filter, no show but also no embarrassing pictures either,
  • Useful awareness, because the images should help to a better understanding of the daily life of the CMH,
  • A professional approach in the shooting, because it is out of the question for the team to be followed by a cameraman who would take unnecessary risks.

Excerpt (source and credit: CMH Article “When a cameraman invites himself to the CMH team” ) from the blog post :

“It is not uncommon for the CMH medical team to be accompanied by an additional person responsible for filming certain interventions using a camera. Images captured during flight and during a mission are used as documentary archives.

Helicopter rescue has several peculiarities. By the intervention and transport tool – the medical helicopter – which is atypical rescue means, less common than the SMUR and ambulances. The interior design is another differentiating element: the cockpit of the CMH’s EC145 helicopter is compact, designed to provide flexibility and immediate access to the nurse and doctor responsible for monitoring the patient. Emergency situations encountered by the medical team often come under difficult, sometimes extreme, management. In short, … the specificity of the practice of medicine in extra-hospital with a helicopter justifies having images and video content. They can be used as a material to allow everyone to understand the operation of a helicopter rescue service, to understand the workings and, ultimately, to appreciate the work necessary for effective management.”

© Martin Gillet

Some pictures of the ‘making of’ as seen on their Facebook page :

General public utility, consider donating and supporting the non-profit organisation #TeamWork

As the CMH is a non-profit organisation, it does not benefit from any grant from the Public Health authorities. Its development is only possible thanks to an affiliation card that allows its members to support the project of the non-profit organisation. Not only will affiliates benefit from free medical transport during any urgent helicopter intervention organised by the 112, but they will also support this Human Project, aimed to support the community.

Donation are appreciated by the CMH and are tax deductible as of 40 EUR.

More day to day stories regarding CMH can be found on their website and Facebook page.


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