|Emergency medical technicians at POSCO take part in an emergency patient transportation drill using a helicopter at the company's mill in Pohang, May 20. Courtesy of POSCO|
By Nam Hyun-woo
POSCO said Thursday it has set up a medical evacuation system to transport victims of industrial accidents at its mills by helicopter to large hospitals.
According to the steelmaker, it installed 45 medical devices including defibrillator and ventilator inside one of two helicopters the company owns. POSCO claimed this is the first case in Korea of a private company setting up a medevac system with its own helicopter.
POSCO said it decided to do so because it takes up to four hours to transport patients by roads from hospitals near its mills to specialized hospitals closer to Seoul. Since the nearest trauma center able to mobilize a medical helicopter is located 90 kilometers from its Pohang mill and 120 kilometers from its Gwangyang mill, there have been difficulties in providing prompt medical services, POSCO said.
A trauma center refers to a hospital capable of providing medical services for serious traumatic injuries oftentimes observed in industrial accidents. There are 17 hospitals designated as trauma centers in Korea with 16 of those in operation currently.
With its helicopter, POSCO said it can transport patients to trauma centers or specialized hospitals near Seoul within an hour.
For this, the company has established a transfer systems with a number of trauma centers across the country, and signed a partnership in June with Hallym University Medical Center in Seoul for emergency medical services.
In May and June, the company carried out emergency patient transportation drills at its mills in Pohang and Gwangyang with the helicopter.
"Our commitment to safety is second to none," POSCO Chairman Choi Jeong-woo said. "We decided to set up the transportation system as part of the company's responsibility to provide prompt medical services for employees in case of accidents."
Emergency medical technicians inside the company and medical staff from nearby hospitals will be on board the chopper when transporting a patient from hospital to hospital. The company said the chopper will be in operation during the daytime.
POSCO said it plans to operate the chopper for free on request from regional governments and local hospitals in emergency situations, as part of the company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
Since Choi took the chairmanship of POSCO in 2018, the steelmaker has been conducting a slew of CSR activities, including charity, volunteer service, education and venture incubation programs.
On Wednesday, the company adopted its corporate citizenship management standards, which will serve as the guidelines for its CSR activities, and pledged to embrace the philosophy of corporate citizenship all across its business.