An F-16 fighter jet was deployed to save a patient’s life in Norway because an ambulance wouldn’t get there quickly enough.
The jet was sent to deliver specialized medical equipment halfway across Norway in a half an hour, The Independent reported.
The ill man was taken to a hospital in Bodø, but he didn’t have an ECMO machine that supports the lungs and heart.
The closest one available was in Trondheim, located about 280 miles south, which would take 10 hours to send over.
The hospital contacted a nearby air force base in Trondheim, asking if there was a way to send the ECMO machine to Bodø.
And Lieutenant Colonel Børge “Gaff” Kleppe told VG News: “Chance would have it that we had two flights bound for [nearby] Moss on an exercise.”
He added: “One of them had even a cargo tank where there might be room. I called and asked them to keep [back] one plane, while we checked on it [for] all the possible places which could accommodate the machine.”
Norway’s armed forces have helped with civilian emergencies in the past.
“Usually we spend about 35 minutes in flight,” he added. “But because of the special cargo, the pilot gave a little extra, so he was there in less than 25 minutes.”
So, within 40 minutes of the call, the medical equipment was delivered to the hospital in Bodø.
“It’s good to be able to help civil society in this way. And when it became clear that it had such an outcome, it gives an extra good feeling,” Kleppe said.
Doctors were pleased with the move.
“We are very grateful for the help we received from the armed forces. It was clearly vital for the patient to get the machine,” said clinic director Kristian Barnes.
“They didn’t ask any questions, except for what size the machine was,” added Anders Wetting Carlsen, chief doctor at Trondheim’s Saint Olaf hospital, according to AFP.
One of the jets fortunately was equipped with an external hold that allowed officials to transport the equipment.