Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Adapting skills to support medevac operations in Africa
Reporting by Jane Stanbury
Aviation has supported health care management of trans-border epidemics in Africa for decades. But Dawit Lemma, CEO of Addis Ababa-based Krimson Aviation has not been so tested by the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic. His knowledge and expertise is urgently being sought by local, national and international aviation companies.
Dawit and his team have been on the front line since the start of the spread. “Our work predominantly relates to arranging handling and planning for business aviation, but we’ve been adapting and modifying these skillsets to support local and international governments and customers over the last month,” he says. Dawit is working from his home office, where he is now locked down with his family.
“As a young business, five years old this year, my team is fairly new to the industry and nothing I could have done could have prepared them for this frenzy. I’ve discovered they are an amazing set of people willing to go the extra mile during this most stressful time. They took each requirement into their stride and have really come together to support those that needed help.”
The Krimson Team
In the last year Krimson has become a key player in the East African medevac market and this has helped design medevac processes. “Our experience with individual medevacs in East Africa has been invaluable. We recognise the complexity of such flights and know how to navigate the complex administration needed to support them. It is not always easy if you don’t have the local knowledge, and we have been able to use this intelligence to support multiple medevacs intra-continentally and internationally.”
Medevac flights traditionally extract patients from rural Ethiopia and then transport them to local hospitals or take patients to the nearest clinical centre of expertise, however medevac flights have been carrying patients further afield to their home territories. This has required the arranging of tech-stops across the continent before airports were locked down. “In normal times multiple tech-stops are always a challenge, but despite the current dynamic aviation landscape we were able to quickly source and expediate the paperwork required and get patients back to their home country safely.”
Krimson has aided the delivery of over 100 tons of medical supplies to several countries through organising cargo flights.
Dawit Lemma, CEO of Addis Ababa-based Krimson Aviation.
Dawit is Ethiopian by heritage, but Swiss by citizenship, having been raised in Geneva. This brings an interesting mix of local knowledge of Ethiopian culture and social norms balanced by understanding what it takes to meet and exceed international business expectations.
“We are all in this together and must pull together to achieve successful operations. Cultural, business, political and social differences have to be overcome, everywhere. I’m inspired to see how my team pulled together, along with those that we’ve worked with, worldwide. There has to be some silver lining to the crisis, and we hope that this ability to coordinate and collaborate effectively is something that continues - long after the virus has expired.”
In addition to running Krimson, Dawit provides volunteer teaching services to students taking the Brevet d'Initiation Aéronautique (BIA) course at the Lycée Guébré-Mariam, an Ethio-French school teaching Francophone pupils from nursery up to high school age in Addis Ababa. Dawit is also hoping he can use this experience to enhance their education.
“I will be telling them that the Chinese symbol for crisis also means opportunity. I would like to take something positive from this experience to enhance and improve the potential for aviation across Africa going forward, we have to learn something valuable from this experience,” he concludes.