How You Can Help if a Medical Flight Lands Near You

You cannot deny the fact that a medical flight landing near your home or workplace can generate some excitement. Naturally, the inquisitive you would want to know what is happening. We all know that medical flights can perform tracheotomy to minor amputations on the spot. As a responsible person, you might want to help the injured or even the crew. As such noble thoughts run through your mind, you might not realize that you are putting yourself at risk. You might wonder how that is possible. This risk is precisely what we discuss here.

Help the Medical Flight by Helping Yourself

It takes no rocket science to understand that a medical flight or any helicopter, for that matter, needs enough space to land. In your enthusiasm, do not block the landing space. Better still, ask the fellow onlookers to make way for the medical flight to land.

Medical flights exert quite some down-thrust which can simply throw around kids, small pets, and loosely held objects. Stay away from such objects or secure them, while also holding your pets and kids so that they are safe.

Protecting your eyes from the dust that might be roused by the medical flight is important. You do not want to end up being a medical emergency yourself and burden the air ambulance crew.

Offering Personal Help is a Strict No

It is highly unlikely that bystanders are asked for help during medical flight emergencies. Do not approach the crew with an offer to help. You might simply be obstructing their work. Think of it; the crew is usually comprised of experienced paramedics, nurses, doctors and pilots who know their job well. In the event that your help is required, rest assured, they will ask for it. Unless that happens, the best thing that you can do is keep yourself out of harm’s way.

What are the Limitations of a Medical Flight?

When time is of essence, no other transport is as effective as a medical flight. That said, there are limitations to this mode of medical transport too. A lot of issues also stem up owing to the fact that medical flight services are a recent addition all over the world. While they have been prevalent since decades, the extent of prevalence has shot up drastically in recent times. Here, we list a few limitations that one must be aware of.

Medical Flight Services have Limited Hours of Operation

According to law, no pilot can work more than a 12-hour shift in a day, regardless of whether he or she flies or not. Of course, some of the pilot’s time goes into the routine upkeep of flight logs, etc. but this does not necessarily mean the professional is paid less, and having several pilots is not a feasible option for most medical flight operators.

Extreme Weather Conditions can be a Problem

Think of land ambulances, their operation remains almost unaffected in any weather condition, but medical flight services are no insulated from this. Even the slightest hint sometimes can prevent their take off. It’s important to note there that haste to save a patient’s life can endanger the lives of the crew members.

Medical Flight Landing and Take Off

It is stating the obvious but airplanes naturally need proper landing facilities. Helicopters, on the other hand, can do with less space but it becomes a problem when receiving hospitals do not have a helipad, especially in urban areas, where space is always an issue.

Highly Trained Professionals are a Must

There could be two problems here. The first is finding highly experienced professionals to become crew members; this can prove tedious. Second, experience comes at a price and can, in turn, shoot up the costs.

A Quick Guide to Know US Air Ambulance Industry Better – Frequently Used Terms

There’s a lot happening in the US air ambulance industry at the current time with people opposing high bills, law makers coming up with newer regulations, and medical flight companies demanding more accountability from the health insurance industry. These happenings will, ultimately, affect the common US citizens. Here’s a glossary of sorts that allows you to understand certain points pertaining to the US air ambulance industry.

ADA of 1978 – the act that governs US Air Ambulance Industry

ADA stands for Airlines Deregulation Act. It was enacted in the year 1978 and has since governed the aviation industry in general. This is a federal act and prevents the states from interfering in the affairs of US air ambulance service providers when it comes to price, route and service.

FAA Reauthorisation Act

The abbreviation FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration – the body that regulates aviation services in the US. The Reauthorisation Act is currently under consideration. If passed, it will give the states the ability to interfere in the matters pertaining to price, route and service, but only when it comes to the US air ambulance industry. The Act is a response to people’s demand to the government to look into the skyrocketing medical flight bills.

In-Network Air Ambulance Service Providers

Most US air ambulance companies have an understanding with insurance providers to cover their services, at least in a given location. These medical flight companies are considered “in-network” by the insurance providers, and mostly, full coverage is given if their subscribers opt for these medical flight companies.

Balance Billing

In most instances insurance companies only cover a part of the air ambulance bills. The medical flight companies are forced to cover the remaining money from the patients directly. In other words the balance amount is billed to the consumers.

ADA Pre-emption

The ADA of 1978 is clear that states cannot interfere in the affairs of US air ambulance companies when it comes to price, route and service as mentioned above. If an air ambulance company is sued with regards to any of these, it enjoys pre-emption from such lawsuits.

US Air Ambulance Memberships

Most US air ambulance companies offer annual memberships at a nominal fee. These members enjoy complete insulation from balance billing. The membership is an additional layer of protection over and above the health insurance.

Night Vision Goggles Make Air Ambulances More Accessible and Safe

Air ambulance companies across the United States are investing thousands and sometimes millions of dollars on night vision goggles. While a part of this move is a regulatory requirement, they certainly make air ambulance evacuations much safer. They are especially helpful for helicopters that land in rather precarious landing pads. It is believed that air ambulance helicopters answer about 2,000 calls for patient transfers each year, and at least 10 percent of these are emergency calls. The night vision goggles enable the air ambulance service providers to offer wider services.

Not All Emergency Calls are Taken up by Air Ambulance Helicopters

Emergencies, of course, can occur at any time of the day or night; however, air ambulance choppers cannot respond to all of those, owing to pilot and crew safety. The issue of safety crops up mainly during the nights due to poor visibility. Night goggles can make the skies safer for the medical flight crew. One direct consequence of this would be that medical flights would be able to respond to more emergencies during the night. It also becomes easier to spot the victims who are stranded in thinly populated, treacherous areas without any immediate help.

The Connection between Air Ambulance Cost and Night Vision Goggles

A night vision goggle typically costs about 12,000 dollars. When an air ambulance is not in use, it still incurs maintenance charges, which ultimately is borne by the patients who avail the services. Now, think of a scenario where the air ambulance is employed more. This means that the maintenance charge would be divided among more people, making each flight cheaper. The people of United States are currently reeling under high air ambulance costs and a lot is being spoken about it. Considering that the night vision goggles only cost about 12,000 dollars, this could be a welcome addition.

Caring for the Victim Before Medical Flight Arrives

Injuries can occur without prior warning, anytime, anywhere. It is a real possibility that you may one day find yourself in a situation where you need to care for a critically injured person until a medical flight arrives. Know that you can make a difference and there is a lot you can do to help the injured. However, first things first; call the 911 before you even attempt anything. Faster the paramedics reach the better. If the accident site is in the middle of nowhere, make that know clearly to the responder. There is a good possibility that the paramedics themselves will arrive in a medical flight for quick evacuation.

Your Role in the Meantime

The fastest that a paramedic or emergency services can arrive is 6 to 9 minutes. While these initial minutes may sound like a small time, they can prove to be the difference between life and death. The first thing to check is whether the patient is breathing normally and whether there is a wound that is letting blood out rapidly. First clamp the blood using a piece of cloth as a tourniquet. Position the patient such that the blood flow is against gravity. Administer CPR if necessary. Observe yourself; feeling stressed and nauseous in such situations is normal. Try and clear your thoughts and focus on the critical victim.

Stay Safe till the Medical Flight or Other Form of Help Arrives

Bravado is bad, especially if you are stuck with the victim in a tough terrain. The best you can do is tell the 911 responder exactly what has happened and answer the questions clearly. Apart from that ensuring that the patient is conscious by talking to them, controlling bleeding, positioning the patient right and administering CPR if necessary is the only thing that you can do. Remember, there are laws to protect you like the Good Samaritan Act that keeps you shielded from any legal liabilities in situations like these, so never shy away from helping.

How to Book a Medical Flight?

Booking a medical flight can seem like a daunting task, especially in light of the fact that you would be booking an entire airplane for yourself. However, it is entirely different from booking a charter plane. In most cases, all you need to do is make a call to set things up. Here, we bring you a rough step-wise guide. Although the process may vary slightly depending on the medical flight provider, it would broadly remain the same.

Begin with a Simple Call to the Medical Flight Provider

Better still, you can simply fill an online form requesting the provider to contact you. Remember, at this stage, you are merely asking for price quotes and evaluating the options before you. Do not commit to booking a medical flight at this point. Also, it is recommended that you call multiple medical flight providers before zeroing on one. Expect questions like your current location, destination, and the diagnosis of the patient. Most providers will get back to you within 30 minutes and give you a price quote.

Ask What the Cost Covers

Ideally, the costs should include ground transport from and to the hospital and airport, medical crew and aircraft charges, equipment fee, landing fee, and a few other miscellaneous fees that should not amount to a lot. If any of these are left out, proactively ask about them so that you get a clear idea of what you are getting into.

Confirmation and the Ensuing Process

Once you confirm that you want to take the medical flight services from a particular provider, you will be asked for personal details like name, date of birth, weight, etc. You will also be asked about the desired time and date of transportation. You will have to give your passport details if you are flying international. You will have to specify whether a person would be accompanying you and also the amount of luggage that you would be carrying.

Air Ambulance Cost – Otero County Sets the Perfect Example

Saying that air ambulance cost is something that most people in the United States dread is stating the obvious. However, Otero County is leading by an example to overcome this problem. This county of New Mexico has found a middle path that is beneficial to everyone involved. The Otero County Commissioners have got into an understanding with Air Methods, which is among the largest air ambulance service providers in the country. The air ambulance provider owns Native Air which services the local population.

Air Ambulance Cost could be as Low as $2.5 a Year

Well, the figure is a best- case scenario where every Otero resident opts to become a member of the annual plan. There are about 65,000 people in the county and all it takes is $2.5 per annum to cover the costs of the air ambulance. However, this is only a possibility on books. The affordably has still not been dented. Currently, the membership is being offered to individuals at a very reasonable cost of $45 and $75 for families. The families must already have a primary health insurance to avail the membership.

It is Hoped that Over a Thousand People will Embrace the Air Ambulance Plan

The membership is slated to get cheaper as more and more people opt for the air ambulance subscription. However, there are certain cons. If the patients end up availing an air ambulance that does not belong to Air Methods, they’ll invariably end up paying huge amounts. Also, people may argue that a plan like this may create a monopoly of sorts which goes against the very basic principles of a capitalistic economy. However, monopoly or not, the plan is affording peace of mind to several residents of Otero County. People also do not have to depend on the county to avail this membership.

Preparing for Medical Flight when Time is On Your Side

A medical flight becomes a necessity when travelling long distances on commercial flights is impossible, owing to the level of care that the patient’s health demands. On the brighter side, it gives the family members enough time to prepare for one. There are several things that the medical flight service provider will help the family and the patient with. However, being knowledgeable about certain aspects of the travel makes it easier for the family. The family must be prepared with the history and physical as well as the discharge summary of the patient, along with copies of insurance cards. Government issued identification is also necessary.

Limitations while Availing a Medical Flight Service

The patient’s family must understand that the medical flight is designed for the patient and carries a huge amount of medical equipment. Unlike, a commercial flight, it is not exactly designed for normal commuters. So, the family members must consult with the medical flight provider as to the maximum luggage that can be carried. It is usually about a 21-inch roller bag that is allowed. Some air ambulances do not allow for family members to accompany the patient in the medical flight; however, most of them accommodate at least one family member. It all depends on the space available and the size of the air ambulance. A quick check with the flight coordinator is always a wise move.

Availing International Air Ambulance Services

It is a given that the family must ensure that the patient’s passport, visa, travel documents and insurance are in place. It is advisable to also carry electronic copies of all the documents for easy retrieval and backup. A detailed discussion regarding the receiving hospital and the logistics between the airport and the hospital is advised. While experienced medical flight coordinators cover such things, there is no harm in knowing the details.

Ensuring Medical Air Transport Coverage Beyond Health Insurance

Americans today seem to have a false sense of security thinking that everything related to their medical wellbeing is automatically covered by health insurance. The reality is far from this belief. The health insurance providers differentiate between hospital expenses and medical air transport. While a good insurance will cover almost the entire medical treatment bill, the same insurance would hardly cover one-third of the medical air transport bill. To make matters worse, the medical air transport cost, even for short distances, sometimes is very high.

Why are Medical Air Transport Costs so High?

Maintaining helicopters and airplanes is no child’s play. It’s an expensive affair. Plus, keeping emergency professionals on standby at all times means additional costs. All these expenses, of course, have to be ultimately borne by the patients availing the services or the health insurance providers. The insurance providers only cover the in-network medical air transport services, and since insurance companies tend to disagree with the high bills that air ambulance companies generate, they only end up covering a part of it. This dissuades these companies to go in-network with the insurance carriers.

There is a Way Out and It Does not Cost Much

All it takes is a bit of planning. When you know well that insurance companies do not cover the expenses fully, exploring other options is the wise thing to do. There are several agencies that specialize in providing medical transport coverage. The costs are nominal and the coverage is usually good. They cover those expenses which are left uncovered by the insurance companies. So, in today’s world while ensuring medical insurance coverage is important, it is equally important to also keep yourself and your family covered for medical air transport emergencies. Failing to do so, can land you in a financial mess that can take years to clean up.

Six Amazing Facts about Worldwide Air Ambulance Services

We look at worldwide air ambulance services to bring you some facts – some fun and some intriguing; nevertheless, they are all interesting.

Fact 1: The Wright Brothers’ maiden flight was in the year 1903 but the first air ambulance service dates back to 1870! Wondering how? It was the French who first found use for it in their military endeavors. The air ambulances were not really mechanical. What the French used were air balloons. Well, we can still call them air ambulances.

Fact 2: The common notion is that worldwide air ambulance services are sought to transport patients to cover long distances. Contrary to this belief, the average distance covered by these life-saving birds is just about 52 miles. Interesting, isn’t it?

Fact 3: Air ambulances played a big part in World War I and were a great success. After the War ended in 1918, the private industry was quick to catch up. The 1930s saw several private air ambulance companies across the world, but the greatest capitalist country in the world, the US, was a bit late to catch up with the trend.

Fact 4: The medical flight industry in the United States employs over 21 thousand skilled professionals. The average salary is over $68,000. However, their exemplary services prove useful to over 400 thousand people each year!

Fact 5: It is the ageing population that is driving the worldwide air ambulance industry. For instance, in the US, the industry is expected to grow at the rate of 10% per annum, mainly owing to an aging population. The fact debunks the belief that MVAs are what keep the demand high.

Fact 6: The air ambulance industry has more helicopters when compared to airplanes and the cost of hiring a medical flight can range anywhere between $12,000 and $25,000 most of the time. However, the cost can go much higher if the level of care needed is high.

Air Ambulance and Medical Flight Transport Services: Everything you need to know!