There was a time when medical air services were nothing but means to get the injured and the critically ill to medical facilities. With technology, air ambulances have evolved a great deal today. The evolution has been to the extent that medical flights these days are nothing short of hospitals on wings. With physicians onboard, the survival chances of people involved in accidents, shootings and stabbings are much better. The United States is also among the few countries in the world that have a huge number of air ambulances, ready to carry patients anytime, anywhere.
Medical Procedures that Medical Air Services Handle
Air ambulances are usually loaded with equipment like oxygen and vital monitors. There are instances where invasive procedures such as thoracotomy too have been performed. Emergency amputations and putting patients into induced coma also can be carried out in a medical flight. How can we forget the role of air ambulances in ferrying Ebola patients to the United States during the crisis in African countries recently? The medical air services were so equipped that risk-free quarantines were created within them.
Air Ambulances Employ Highly Qualified Personnel
Quality of care is the hallmark of most air ambulance service providers. Special training is invariably given to the crew and ongoing training sessions are conducted. There are specialty medical flights – just like hospitals – that take care of specific concerns. For instance, you can find pediatric intensive care units within air ambulances, complete with qualified staff to handle infants.
Career in the air ambulance industry is also a highly sought out one in the United States today. The excitement of being in the midst of action and big pay packages have meant that qualified medical personnel are eager to join the industry. For a common man, the developments mean quicker and efficient healthcare services.
The demand for international air ambulance services has been very high in the year 2015. For companies that rent air ambulances, this has meant soaring revenue. Take for instance FAI which is a German company that rents international air ambulances. The company that is based out of Nuremberg has seen revenue from international air ambulance rentals from 30.4 million Euros to 41.7 million Euros. It rented out 37% more medical flights compared to the previous year. Their international air ambulance flights covered a distance of over 3.7 million kilometers and covered over 125 countries.
Why the Demand for Rental International Air Ambulance?
There are several costs associated with owning an aircraft. Cost of procurement is a major issue and cost of each international air ambulance can run into millions. Moreover, it is not enough if a company owns just a couple of them if the reach is to be global. Another factor is the upkeep and parking. Think of it, aircrafts must be parked professionally and the maintenance can cost thousands of dollars. In fact, countries like the United States are struggling to keep the patient burden low due to such cost factors. Renting out an international air ambulance is much cheaper.
International Air Ambulance Rentals, Skill Personnel and Coordination
A company that gives out international air ambulances on rent obviously also helps its customers with cross-border evacuations. In essence, this becomes a joint effort between two organizations to set things right. Also, a company might sometimes be short of aircraft and not skilled personnel. This forms the perfect ground for hiring an international air ambulance. Most companies that rent out air ambulances also rent out air crafts for other commercial purposes. This means they can make optimum usage of the aircrafts and contain the overheads effectively. Organizations like AFI are known to own huge fleet of aircrafts so availability is never an issue.
Not all jobs in the air ambulance industry require that you fly all the time. There are some which are performed from an office setting. Perhaps the most vital of these is the job of a medical air transport coordinator. If you are a person who loves to communicate and coordinate, then this might be the right job for you. A typical day of a medical air transport coordinator is very busy as he or she is expected to be in touch with crew, medical staff, and patients effectively when time is of essence.
What Exactly does a Medical Air Transport Coordinator Do?
As a medical air transport coordinator, you will have to coordinate care between discharging hospital, air ambulance, and the receiving facility. You might also have to make arrangements to bridge the distance between the landing area and the hospital which sometimes can be quite a bit. Apart from that you might have to act as an educator to the patient and the family on how to go about medical air transport.
Apart from these, you’ll be expected to handle coordination with insurance companies, getting prior authorizations from third parties involved, confirmation of medical necessity, solving any billing issues if they arise and so on. The list of responsibility is usually huge but the remuneration can be quite handsome once you gain enough experience in the field.
The Qualifications to Become a Medical Air Transport Coordinator
Academically a high school diploma or GED would suffice. Most medical air transport employers prefer knowledge of the service area, although being involved in air ambulance industry might not be mandatory. Experience in scheduling and customer relationship is vital. You might need EMT certification, although some companies are okay with you obtaining the certification within a stipulated time after joining. Most importantly your written and verbal skills must be excellent.
The career as a US air ambulance paramedic is both rewarding and exciting. The paramedics are expected to ride along with the patient in the aircraft providing emergency response as well as advanced life support to the patients en route the medical facility where the charge is then transferred. The job of a US air ambulance paramedic can be quite mentally stressful and physically demanding as are most jobs in this industry. Most air ambulance companies, apart from the required qualifications, also look for good physical fitness before hiring the services.
Qualification Requirements of US Air Ambulance Paramedics
To be considered by US air ambulance companies, a paramedic is usually expected to have at least 5 years of experience. The median salary offered is about $31,700 according to the statistics revealed by Bureau of Labor Statistics in the year 2014. All the states in the United States mandate that the paramedics are licensed for the job. An associate degree of certificate is enough for the job. The emergency medical technician paramedic certification issued by NREMT is a must.
Obtaining the Qualifications to become a US Air Ambulance Paramedic
You are first expected to get the CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and BLS (basic life support) certifications. If you’ve attended these classes in high school it is a huge plus. It usually takes just one session to get this certification.
Next is getting emergency medical training. The training involves both theoretical and practical classes in a vocational or technical education setting. Here, you would be trained to handle situations such as allergic reactions, substance abuse, etc.
You’re now ready to get the license through NREMT. You’ll have to take an examination which comprises of written as well as practical tests here.
It’s now time to gain experience to become a certified paramedic so that you can land a job with any of the US air ambulance companies. In order to get the certification, you will have to bag at least 1,200 hours of training. Once you gain that, you’ll have to undergo an extensive certification examination through NREMT. The certification qualifies you to take up the national certification to become a paramedic. Once you’re through this, you can gain the requisite experience and then apply for a job as a paramedic in any of the US air ambulance companies.
Medical emergencies pop up just about any time. What if they pop up during your overseas vacation? You might be chilling out somewhere in Cuba and suddenly your partner suffers a stroke. You get your partner transported to a hospital and suddenly, you realize that the standards of healthcare are below your expectation. That’s when the panic kicks in.
The first thing that comes to mind is a worldwide air ambulance service that can get your partner safely back home for quality medical care. But then you realize, you’re in Cuba and getting out of a country that doesn’t enjoy a great diplomatic equation with your home country is not all that easy. That’s when the connections of your air ambulance service provider come into picture.
Always Choose Experienced Worldwide Air Ambulance Services
Well-known worldwide air ambulance companies have contacts at the highest level. Take for instance that the Cuban officials put a 24-hour hold on the air ambulance services. These 24 hours could mean the difference between life and death, and staying back is not a choice.
A worldwide air ambulance company that has the right connections will put in all efforts to push the right buttons (and strings) at the highest level to get you evacuated. There are organizations and sympathetic political leaders throughout the world. The only thing needed is the right approach to get to them.
Of Course, Worldwide Air Ambulance Cover Matters
While getting out of a country is one issue, footing the air ambulance bill is another. Your worldwide air ambulance company will be at ease when it knows that you are covered financially. Transporting a patient beyond borders is typically an expensive affair. However, the good news is that there are worldwide air ambulance coverage programs designed specifically for this purpose. The next time, you set out for an overseas vacation, keep these aspects in mind. After all, it pays to be safe.
The benefits of air ambulance services over ground ambulance have long been debated by people who have been concerned about the rising costs of patient evacuations. In fact, there was a fierce debate over the unnecessary use of air ambulance services when in 2013 two children were flown utilizing air ambulance services for minor injuries. While some in the EMS industry blamed it on bad decision by the medical staff on the ground, others blamed it on the air ambulance industry itself. Let’s take a look at both these modes of medical evacuation objectively.
What does the NCBI say about Air Ambulance Services?
National Center for Biotechnology Information had conducted a survey on the efficacy of air ambulance services that involved helicopters. A total of 45 patients were included in the study. It was definitively concluded that air ambulance services are much more efficient when it comes to saving time. The report also noted that the need to save time must be equated with the medical emergency before taking the decision. The study, however, was conducted way back in 2006 and the ground reality has changed considerably since then.
Report on Air Ambulance Services by Canadian Journal of Surgery
A more recent study was conducted by the Canadian Journal of Surgery. In fact, the study was conducted last year. The review was an extensive one and collected data over the past decade. The main objective was to compare outcomes between ground and air ambulance services with respect to interventions, injuries and outcomes. A total of 14,440 patients were taken into consideration.
The results left no doubt that the rate of death associated with air ambulance services was much less when compared to ground ambulance services. The reason for this was that the air ambulance services could reach speciality treatment centers within a shorter span of time when compared to ground ambulances.
It must be concluded that the efficacy of air ambulance services cannot be doubted. However, there is a need for careful medical deliberation before opting for an air ambulance.
Depending on the seriousness of the illness and the care requirements, a patient may be transported through any form of medical air transport. It could be through an air ambulance, commercial stretcher or medical escort. The point to be noted, however, is that all these forms of medical air transport invariably need the services of a flight nurse. It is one of those air ambulance careers that is seeing a high degree of demand currently and is slated to grow steadily. There is also a sense of adventurism that comes with the job as you are expected to be in the midst of challenging situations.
The Mindset of a Medical Air Transport Nurse
The salaries of air ambulance nurses are pretty high; however, it is also a high-pressure job. Often, flight nurses, especially critical care flight nurses, are expected to take calls that can mean the difference between life and death. Not every medical air transport vehicle carries a doctor on every rescue. So, remaining unflustered in tough situations is a quality that takes the front seat if you want to become a flight nurse. The ability to take calls independently and improvise to make the best of the situation is another welcome trait. It is always an on-call duty. If being available round the clock is too much for you, then this career is not for you.
Qualifications of a Medical Air Transport Critical Care Nurse
The foremost requirement is the license to practice in the state where you’re based. Most medical air transport companies demand an experience of at least 5 years, if you’re targeting critical care. The nurse might be required to attend Aviation Physiology courses once a decade. The course must meet the Department of Transportation specifications. The following certifications are deemed necessary:
- International Basic Trauma Life Support Provider
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider
Most medical air transport companies prefer additional Advanced Pediatric Life Support Provider certification, although this is not compulsory.
Above all, a flight nurse needs to posses compassion and excellent interpersonal skills.
Imagine being in a situation where your loved one has a serious health condition that necessitates use of an air ambulance service and you are left worrying about the cost of utilizing it. No one would want to be in a situation like this. But what if the air ambulance service that you choose offers to help you with the insurance? Yes, there are air ambulance companies out there that will aid you in getting adequate insurance reimbursements. They even hire qualified personnel for this specific purpose. These experts can even give you an idea whether your claim is likely to be accepted or rejected.
Medical Necessity for Air Ambulance Service
There is no denying that the medical necessity for using air ambulance service needs to be established first. How do you achieve that? Well, frankly speaking, it is not in your hands. The physician treating the patient will determine whether the patient needs air ambulance service or not.
If the treating physician deems the use of air ambulance service a medical necessity, will that mean you will get insurance cover? Well, not always. There is the medical director of the insurance company that comes into picture. It is in the right of the medical director to dispute the claims of medical necessity by the treating doctor. If he or she does so, the insurance cover may be denied. However, if you are in good hands, the air ambulance service may try to pursue the insurance reimbursement until the end.
What if the Efforts of the Air Ambulance Company Fail?
That’s a very unfortunate circumstance but not unheard of. If your insurance provider refuses payment and you do not have an air ambulance membership, you might be asked to pay the amount out of pocket. However, most air ambulance service providers offer discounts in such circumstances. You need to be ready to negotiate hard so that you end up paying the minimum.
As far as neonates or newborns are concerned, medical air transportation is always considered a last resort, mainly due to the frailty of the infants. However, sometimes, medical air transportation becomes inevitable due to certain emergency treatments and diagnostics, which can mean the difference between life and death. Here are a few factors that need to be considered before availing medical air transportation.
Arranging Medical Air Transportation
Of course, if it’s an emergency, that demands an air ambulance, the treating physician would ask for it. Even if it’s not asked for and you wish to avail it so that the child gets the best care in the quickest possible time, you’d need to consult the treating physician. There are various parameters that the physician would check, before giving his consent for medical air transportation.
Altitude during Medical Air Transportation
There must be a clear understanding of what the change in altitude means for the clinical condition of the neonate. It must be noted that the barometric pressure goes down with the increase in altitude. If the infant has difficulty getting enough oxygen, arrangements must be made beforehand to tackle such situation.
Take off and Landing of the Air Ambulance
Reduced cerebral perfusion during take off and increased cerebral perfusion during landing can pose a health threat to the infant. There is also a possibility of intraventricular bleeding; however, it should be noted that such risks can be completely avoided by competent staff who are trained to handle infants on air ambulances.
Vibrations, Noise and Temperature
Vibrations as such do not pose a threat to the infant but can make securing IV lines and other such medical interventions a bit tedious. Noise can be an issue if any procedure is being performed onboard the medical air transportation vehicle. If the noise is going to increase beyond 125 decibels, special care must be taken to tackle this. There is a possibility of the infant experiencing cold stress. It must be ensured that the infant is in the right thermal environment.
A certified and experienced staff is always a safe bet when transferring a neonatal patient via medical air transportation.
The United States of America spends the highest amount of money on healthcare in the world. It was already at $2.9 trillion in 2013, which has only increased since. This is not necessarily a bad thing as patients invariably get excellent medical care throughout the country.
The insurance too, for the most part, covers the expenses well, although it’s a bit long-drawn sometimes. However, air ambulance service coverage has been a bone of contention for sometime with most of the blame going to the air ambulance service provider rather than the insurance companies. Take the instance of air ambulance services in Montana.
Air Ambulance Service in Montana
Montana is mostly comprised of rural areas, so speciality healthcare is not always available close by, necessitating use of air ambulance service for adequate treatment. The air ambulance services are not always covered by insurance companies in full and the reason given is that the service is not “in-network” and only the companies that are in the insurance network are covered.
Bargaining Power of Air Ambulance Service Providers Matters
To get to the core of the problem, one needs to understand the negotiations held between air ambulance service providers and insurance providers. In a place like Montana, there are a few insurance providers; in fact, there are just three. This gives the insurance companies huge bargaining power when fixing an amount that would be given to the air ambulance service provider. Most air ambulance companies are wary of settling for a low price as it doesn’t adequately cover the cost. As a result, they choose to stay out of the network. Insurance companies only cover air ambulance services in full if they are offered by companies “in network.”
Moreover, the patient rarely gets to choose an air ambulance service provider. Last year alone, Montana saw over 3,000 medical flights. There needs to be some consensus between all the insurance providers and air ambulance service providers if the patients are to benefit in the true sense.