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Compliance Norms for Texas Air Ambulance Service Providers

Just because an aircraft is willing to transport a patient, it does not count as an air ambulance service, in any state of the US. Here, we discuss a few rules that have been laid down by Emergency Health Care Act. We discuss only such parts of the act that pertain to air ambulance service providers in the state of Texas. The rules may vary slightly for other states, but you would get the overall picture here.

Air Ambulance Service – What Constitutes Specialized Emergency Service

The vehicle must be specifically designed to carry the injured or sick by air. Also, all equipments necessary for transportation of the patient must be provided by the air ambulance service.

Any air ambulance service that claims to offer specialized transportation services must be licensed by the Department of State Health Services. This includes the aircraft as well as the staff involved. Even the air ambulance service providers flying into Texas from other states must be licensed by the Department of State Health Services and must be in compliance with the safety norms prescribed by it. Out of state providers must be accredited by Committee on Air Ambulance Medical Services. They would be considered to be in compliance with the Department’s norms if accredited.

The Location of the Air Ambulance Service

All advertisements of the air ambulance service provider must contain its physical address in the state. If the service operates from multiple locations, it is free to advertise them. If an out of state air ambulance service advertises within Texas, it must have at least one base in the state.

There is, however, one exclusion to state licensing. Any air transportation provider can offer voluntary service out of compassion without the expectation of remuneration and bear all the costs of transport. However, the company must be in compliance as a regular air transportation service provider.

Two US Passports

Overseas Help with Air Ambulances

Travelling overseas alone, or even as a couple, can be quite intimidating, especially if you encounter a medical emergency of serious nature. Even if you are covered for emergency medical evacuation and have good travel insurance, you would be better off returning to your home country for better treatment and aftercare. Air ambulances become a necessity in these cases. If you are a citizen of the United States, you can expect some help from the US Consulate in this regard.

How Can the Consulate Help You with Air Ambulances?

The consulate will assist you in locating an air ambulance that is best suited for your medical evacuation. You can even request that your friends and family be informed if doing that is tough for you given the circumstances. This will give your loved ones enough time to arrange for finances and take care of other aspects on your arrival.

You can always visit the US Passports and International Travel website to view the list of medical evacuation companies. The same website also lists the US as well as overseas travel and medical insurance companies.

Consulate does not Cover Cost of Air Ambulances

Keep in mind that the consulate merely acts as a facilitator and any expense will still have to be borne by you, your family, your insurance or any other type of coverage that you might have opted for. Keep in mind that your domestic insurance carrier will not cover you when you are abroad, if you have not purchased a cover that specifically states that a medical evacuation will be covered.

The website of the US Passports and International Travel specifically mentions that it assumes no liability or responsibility of any kind. The companies that provide air ambulances are merely listed for the convenience of international travellers. However, finding links to information about air ambulance companies and insurance providers becomes easy when you refer to this website.

Airambulance cabin filled with Medical Equipment

Structural Guidelines for Fixed Wing Airambulance Transport

All most all states in the United States have laid down certain minimum requirements that a fixed wing airambulance must satisfy. The guidelines given below have been issued by the state of Tennessee but the structural guidelines are, in general, similar in other states too.

Airambulance Doors

The doors of the airambulance must be wide enough that a stretcher can be passed through it without tilting it more than 30 degrees. This guideline ensures that the transit of the patient into the airambulance is safely done.

Vertical Height of the Airambulance

It is vital that there is enough headspace so that the medical personnel can function optimally and provide adequate care for the patient. For this reason, all airambulance vehicles must have a minimum vertical height of 30 inches.

The lighting of the Aircraft

The electrical capacity of the airambulance must be equipped to provide “sufficient” light inside, such that medical care is not hindered due to lack of it. The service providers are allowed to make use of portable lamps to achieve this.

Guidelines for Airambulance Equipments

To ensure stability of the patient while entering the aircraft and during the transport, the stretchers must be fitted with at least two restraining straps to keep the patient in place.

The suction devices must have a capacity to produce suction of at least 12 inches of mercury.

Oxygen bags or masks must be available within the airambulance. There must be enough stock so that 95% fraction inspired oxygen is available at all times. The equipment must be capable of adjusting flow between 2 to 5 liters of oxygen per minute.

Adequate sanitary supplies like trash disposal bags, emesis bags, urinal, bedpan, towels, etc, must be available.

Basic tools like stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, dressing materials, and flashlights must be kept handy.

As a patient and a customer availing airambulance services, it is your right to have these facilities and being aware of such basic things about air ambulances can help.

Pic of hand holding money

Guide to Medical Flight Financial Considerations

Insurance is the foremost financial consideration when it comes to a medical flight; however, we’ve had enough discussion on the subject. There are also other factors that one must bear in mind. The cost of a medical flight largely depends on the aspects that we discuss below.

Does the Medical Flight Need Prepping for Special Equipment?

If the patient needs traction, cardiac monitors, ventilator and similar equipment, there is obviously going to be a cost attached to them. These factors will increase the price of the medical flight. If the medication is provided by the provider of the medical flight, the costs might even go higher.

The Destination and Duration of Medical Flight

It goes without saying that a longer medical flight costs more. However, the cost of flying from one country to another can push the costs even higher. As most health insurances do not cover overseas medical flight, the patient might have to bear a huge burden. Having a comprehensive travel insurance that covers such costs or being a part of medical flight membership programs is vital before overseas travel.

Distance between Transferring Facility and Receiving Facility from Airport/Helipad

Most of the medical flight service providers take care of all details including transportation of the patient from the transferring hospital to receiving hospital. One must understand that this demands considerable coordination. If the receiving facility is located in a foreign country, the service provider would have to take care of customs, visa, and other formalities too. The medical flight service providers charge for all their efforts. If it involves, ground transport, the patient will also be billed for that.

The costs might also depend on the type of aircraft used. Travelling through a long-range medical flight can be expensive but necessary. However, when it comes to medical transportation, all service providers are not equal. Some charge considerably more than others. It is for you to weigh the costs against the benefits and take a call, if at all possible.