Author: Staff reporter, Cape Argus, 27 February 2019
Volunteer pilot Prof. Frans Grotepas is retiring from the cockpit after 6 decades of volunteer flights.
Cape Town – The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) bid farewell to volunteer pilots Prof. Frans Grotepass and René de Wet who together have dedicated more than 60 years of their time to serve the community.
Grotepass and de Wet formed part of a volunteer group of fixed wing pilots who freely dedicates their time to fly an air ambulance service to save the lives of thousands of patients. While they will no longer be involved in flying they will still be involved with the organisation as advisors and Trustees, the organisation said.
The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) relies on a group of volunteer fixed wing pilots to transport critically ill and injured patients via the Pilatus PC 12 emergency air ambulance service. Prof. Frans (76), a Maxillo-facial Surgeon by profession and former Head of the Maxillo-facial Surgical Department at the University of Stellenbosch joined the AMS volunteer programme in 1980.
“I am going to miss the thinking and concentration in the cockpit; the late night phone calls for missions from the National Operations Centre (NOC). I have flown for AMS half my life, it sure has been a wonderful time, challenging at times but most rewarding serving the community,” said Grotepass.
René de Wet, currently one of the Trustees of the AMS joined the volunteer programme in 1999.
Air Mercy Services (AMS) volunteer pilots
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“I enjoyed my time here, all the accolades are difficult to accept. The camaraderie amongst the volunteers and staff of this organisation is amazing, it is my honour to be able to be part of an organisation with a higher purpose,” De Wet said.
The purpose of the AMS is to facilitate access to healthcare to those rendered most vulnerable by geographical, social or economic inequity, and in so doing, reduce vulnerability of at-risk communities and judiciously improve the quality of life.
The mission of the AMS is in support of state-run programmes, AMS will innovatively render rural outreach programmes, clinical training and development for stakeholders and emergency aero-medical/rescue services.
“We can only stand in admiration to Prof. Grotepass and René de Wet for their long standing commitment to fulfil the mission of the AMS to save the lives of those in need,” AMS chief executive Dr Philip Erasmus said.
“Captains we salute you, may your legacy continue to inspire those in our system and fellow South Africans to lead by the example you have set to serve our fellow man. I conclude in the words of Heber J Grant; When one is giving service for advancement of humanity, when one is working without money and without price, with no hope of earthly reward, there comes a real, genuine joy into the human heart. May we continue to walk in your footsteps to improve the quality of life of all,” he said.
This article originally appeared in the Cape Argus on 27 February 2019.