The F-16 Viper, a fighter jet used by numerous countries around the world including Norway, is capable of flying at more than 1,000 miles per hour. So when a patient in northern Norway needed lifesaving equipment and need it quickly, the Norwegian Air Force came to the rescue.
A critically ill man in the northern Norwegian city of Bodø needed an ECMO machine, which is normally used to supplement a patient’s own heart and lungs. That was a problem, as the nearest ECMO machine was in Trondheim, which was 280 miles to the south, according to the Independent:
A 10-hour journey by car, they feared the man would die before it could arrive.
However, after a moment of inspiration, they decided to contact an air force base near Trondheim to ask if there was any hope of getting the equipment to Bodø in time to save the patient, whose precise condition was unclear.
And Lieutenant Colonel Børge ‘Gaff’ Kleppe, leader of 338 Squadron, told local media outlet VG News: “Chance would have it that we had two flights bound for [nearby] Moss on an exercise.”
F-16s, like many fighter aircraft, are capable of carrying cargo compartments under the wings instead of bombs and missiles. Normally, they’re used to carry things like the fighter pilot’s luggage when they’re flying between bases. The F-16s were just heading to the nearby airbase for an exercise, so they wouldn’t normally be carrying one, the Independent report said. But in the hour of need, one was found and fitted immediately.
The pilot, presumably knowing just how dire the situation was, was able to shave ten minutes off of what would normally be a 35-minute flight, and the ECMO machine was delivered just 40 minutes after the phone call was made.
(For those who exist outside of both space and time and need a reference, I usually can’t get to my own office in 40 minutes, let alone carry anything with me.)
Good on you, Norwegian Air Force, for not only being incredibly capable when your people needed you, but for also being accessible enough that a hospital could call you up and just be like, “help.”
Maybe the entire world could try this? And I don’t want to hear anyone whining that we can’t do it because of high costs. It costs roughly $22,514 to fly an F-16 for one hour. I’m pretty sure that’s cheaper than an ambulance.