When a person is stuck in a challenging environment, nothing else is as effective as air ambulance flights that make use of hoists. Their presence not only ensures quick rescue but also saves a lot of time and effort when compared to a ground rescue, although they too have not been without hoist fatalities. However, that is a risk that the brave rescuers sometimes take. Here are some of the advantages, limitations, and risks associated with air ambulance flights that make use of hoists.
What Limits the Air Ambulance Flights?
- If the winds are moving at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour, if the visibility is poor or the weather is simply harsh, air ambulance flights may not undertake a rescue mission.
- There is a weight limit that comes with hoist operations and if the combined weight of the patient as well as the equipment exceeds 450 pounds, the mission might be abandoned.
- Hoist operations are never undertaken during night hours
- Conducting a hoist operation over water is tough and can be quite limiting.
The Factors taken into Consideration by Air Ambulance Flights
- The nearest location where the aircraft can be fueled
- Availability of landing area
- The location of the nearest command post
- All information related to the patient such as the weight, age, people along with the patient, etc
- Availability of a backup plan in case the mission cannot be carried out
The Different Types of Hoists Used by Air Ambulance Flights
- Rescuer Backpack: This contains hoist equipment that’s best suited for rescue along with some emergency medical equipment in anticipation of the injury.
- Bauman Bag: This equipment is used in winters when the injured patient needs to be kept warm. The bag is a splinter that fits automatically around the patient keeping him or her warm.
- Rescue Net: Here, the patient is placed prone in a rescue net which is then hooked to the hoist.
- Seat Harness: This is used primarily to rescue uninjured patients or to rescue those who have very minor injuries that do not pose any threat to life. Here, the harness is simply placed around the patient and hooked up to be hoisted away.
Carrying out hoist rescue missions requires special approval by FAA which is granted only after a rigorous certification process.
Most of our discussions have always revolved around insurances, scheduling, and other facts pertaining to medical air transport. Here, we veer a bit from our usual discussions and move towards a few fun facts that will also add to the pool of your general knowledge.
First Medical Air Transport Vehicle was actually a Balloon
Yes, you read it right, a balloon! An air balloon was first used in 1866 to rescue stranded sailors of a shipwreck. The rescue finds mention in Jules Verne’s Robur le Conquérant. The name of this medical air transport balloon was Albatross. Some time later, another air ambulance balloon was used to evacuate 160 soldiers from a city under siege in 1870.
The WW-I also Marked the Beginning of Medical Air Transport
Well, something good came out of the War that had left the world in shambles. The French were the first to recognize the importance of medical air transport. They estimated that the mortality rate would fall by 60% if medical air transport was made use of.
The first person to be rescued through a proper aircraft for medical reasons was as Serbian officer during World War I.
The credit of having an organized air ambulance service goes to the Nazi Germany, which in 1936 had a fleet of medical air transport vehicles. They first put it into use during the Spanish Civil War.
The First Civilian Medical Air Transport took Place in 1933
Private air ambulance services had still not come into picture. It was, in fact, the British Air Force that first started helping civilians. It was on May 14, 1933 that a fisherman who suffered a perforated stomach was transported through an air ambulance.
Switzerland caught up after World War II, mainly to aid in rescue missions involving mountains during winter sports.
Looking at these facts, we must feel fortunate knowing that the response time these days has gone down to just about 10 minutes during emergencies.
So your credit card says that it will get you medical help during times of emergency. But does that mean you can rest assured that you will reach your home in the United States? What you need to do is read the fine print. If a part of the terms and condition reads that you will be transported to the nearest appropriate medical facility, you might be in trouble. Yes, you might get help, but you might end up getting that help quite far from you home and sometimes not even in your home country. Now, if you are travelling overseas, this can pose serious concerns for you, and you might still end up paying tens of thousands of dollars for evacuation via air ambulance transport.
Ensuring Adequate Air Ambulance Transport
If you are going to rely on your credit card to cover the risk of using air ambulance transport, ensure that you get answers for the following questions:
What is the financial limit of the air ambulance transport?
Some credit cards might set a limit beyond which you might have to pay out of pocket. Knowing the limit will help you prepare financially.
Are there any terms and conditions?
If the credit card does not cover air ambulance transport for pre-existing illnesses, you might be in trouble when your existing illness like a heart condition flares up unexpectedly. Moreover, it is important that you cover this risk as you are more likely to need air ambulance transport for a pre-existing condition.
Do I have the privilege of choosing the hospital?
You do not want to end up in a hospital that is too far away from your home. Also, you might not feel confident getting yourself treated in a hospital that you do not know of.
Can my family travel with me?
You might want your family to accompany you during your air ambulance transport, just so that you feel reassured and comfortable, so check whether your agreement with the credit card allows you this privilege.
At the end of it, there are credit cards that allow you good coverage for a reasonable price. On your part, be wise and proactively check what you are getting into so that you remain safe.
World today is truly a smaller place with people travelling from one end to the other for business purposes all the time. Most organizations have branches all over the world and it becomes imperative for executives to travel between these destinations frequently. However, not all those destinations have quality medical care. You wouldn’t want to be stranded in a country with inferior medical standards due to the air ambulance service costs. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself safe at all times.
Look at the Extent of Air Ambulance Service Coverage
Not all air ambulance service covers are equal. While some will bring you complete coverage, others might not. Study the agreement well, especially the fine-print. Check whether the policy covers the regions that you travel and also about the limitations of the policy. You don’t want to end up in your home country but still pretty far from your home. So, determining the destination is vital.
Does the Air Ambulance Service Policy Cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions?
Most policies do not cover the risk of pre-existing medical conditions. When you’re travelling overseas, you don’t want to be stuck with such a limitation. Keep in mind that a pre-existing condition is more likely to trouble your health than a new one. You want an air ambulance service cover that has no such conditions.
Speak to Your Employer about Air Ambulance Service Cover
Don’t shy away from asking your employer to foot the costs that an air ambulance cover demands. After all, it is also for the good of your company that you travel to far-off lands. So, it is your employer’s moral responsibility to keep you safe through an air ambulance service cover. Many a times, it is only the lack of knowledge that keeps your employer from offering you such benefit. All you need to do is make your concerns apparent.
If your loved one is in need of air ambulance transport and if you have enough time in your hands to choose among the various service providers, would you still opt for a broker to choose one? If your answer is yes, think again. Here, we list a few reasons as to why you are better off scouting for an air ambulance transport yourself.
Cost of Air Ambulance Transport
An air ambulance transport broker usually pours in all efforts to give you the cheapest available option out there. Of course, this is good but one needs to keep in mind that the cheapest is not always the best. It is necessary to look into other aspects too. Moreover, the broker will invariably add his charges to the overall cost of air ambulance transport. If you look for an air ambulance yourself, you can save this money.
Ability to Answer Questions About Air Ambulance Transport Service
Keep in mind that the broker is not a representative of the air ambulance transport company. He would therefore have limited knowledge to allay all your fears and concerns. This can be a major disadvantage if you are anxious about the whole thing. When you choose to find an air ambulance transport company yourself, you would be dealing with the representative of the company who would be in a better position to clarify all your doubts.
Do the Legwork for Air Ambulance Transport Yourself
Spending a bit of time to find an air ambulance transport service yourself can free you of a lot of worries. Most of the time, all it takes is looking online for a few phone numbers of air ambulance companies and calling them up. The air ambulance transport coordinators would do the rest of the work. Spending a couple of hours to perform this task can save you money and worry.
Choosing air ambulance services is never easy, but what if there is an indicator of the efficiency? This is exactly what CAMTS certification brings. CAMTS stands for Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems. There are several benefits associated with this certification for both consumers and also air ambulance services. The entire certification process is voluntary. Here, we discuss some of these benefits.
Benefits for Air Ambulance Services
The air ambulance services that receive CAMTS certification enjoy lower insurance premiums as part of this accreditation involves showing commitment towards safety. There are certain contracts that a hospital or a state department may reserve only for certified air ambulance services. An accredited company can reap these benefits. The company also enjoys a certain prestige among competitors and consumers. The whole certification process can be a bit time consuming. It also costs money but it is worth the benefits that come along with it.
Benefits for Consumers of Air Ambulance Services
The fact that an air ambulance company is CAMTS certified means that it follows a high safety standard. This is ultimately what a consumer or patient wants. Medical emergencies that demand air ambulance services can be stressful and there’s usually not enough time to look into the reputation and safety standards of an air ambulance company. However, preferring a CAMTS certified company is an easy decision.
The Process of CAMTS Certification for Air Ambulance Services
The entire process begins with the air ambulance company critically evaluating itself. This allows the organization to better understand its strengths and weaknesses. Inspections are conducted to assess the company’s practices. If there is room for improvement, the inspectors make relevant suggestions and later see to it that they are implemented. Once the air ambulance company satisfies all the set standards, it is awarded the certification. Air ambulance services that take the pain of undergoing such scrutiny display that they truly care for the patients that they carry onboard.
RVSM is an abbreviation that stands for Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum. RVSM-approved medical flights must be fitted with certain gadgets such as autopilot and certified altimeter. These medical flights are allowed to fly 29,000 feet above the sea level.
RVSM allows aircrafts to fly maintaining reduced vertical distance between each other; thus, paving way for more medical flights to share airspace simultaneously and safely. While this may seem quite technical for a layman, there are other distinct advantages of flying above 29,000 feet. It brings speed, comfort and safety. Let’s discuss the importance of RVSM, especially with long-distance medical flights.
Safety of Medical Flights and RVSM
Safety is always the primary concern when you choose an air ambulance. Medical flights coursing at lower altitudes are more susceptible to turbulence. Such turbulences can cause unnecessary anxiety in the patient which is not advisable when the condition of the patient is critical or the patient is already anxious about his or her health.
Speed of Medical Flights and RVSM
Time is always of essence when choosing an air ambulance. Medical flights flying at higher altitudes fly quicker and burn lesser fuel. This means that the air ambulance does not have to stop frequently for fueling. Circling the airport, landing, fueling and resuming flight can be quite time consuming and RVSM approved medical flights avoid/ reduce such hassles greatly.
Comfort of Medical Flights and RVSM
The reduced chances of turbulence, when flying at higher altitudes, make travel comfortable for the patient. The difference in comfort level is not too great but for a patient who has a fragile health condition, the small difference can mean a lot. There is also the peace of mind that comes along when you know that the aircraft carrying you will take lesser time.
Cost is always a consideration when choosing medical flights. The fact that a RVSM approved aircraft burns less fuel could translate into lesser costs for you.
If you’re guessing that we are discussing more about health insurance, you must know that we aren’t. What we discuss here is the malpractice insurance and liability insurance coverage that an air ambulance service is mandated to provide. Let’s discuss each of the insurance individually and see what they mean for you.
Air Ambulance Service and Liability Insurance
What do you think of a car driver who does not have adequate liability insurance? The answer in one world would be “irresponsible.” The same holds good for an air ambulance service. You do not want to associate with an air ambulance service provider that doesn’t care for such responsibilities. In fact, all air ambulance companies in the United States must have a liability insurance cover of $20 million.
What if the air ambulance service you travel does not have liability cover? You don’t have to worry about that in terms of legality, it is entirely the responsibility of the service provider. However, such coverage is an indication of the air ambulance service provider’s reputation.
Air Ambulance Service and Malpractice Insurance
Of course, the last thing you want is a malpractice situation. There’s no doubt about that but medical malpractice does exist and you need coverage against it. Wouldn’t you want your physician or ground medical transportation to have malpractice insurance to feel secure? This should be no different for an air ambulance service. The law mandates that every air ambulance service in the United States has a policy that covers $1 million for medical malpractice.
Ask the Air Ambulance Service about Insurance Covers
The air ambulance service providers are under no obligation to make their insurance covers public. However, most reliable air ambulance service providers come forth with complete information regarding both liability and medical malpractice coverage. This shows that such providers are patient-oriented. If an air ambulance company is unwilling to discuss these details with you, perhaps you should look elsewhere for this life-saving medical service.
Nursing is a profession that demands passion and the compassion to care. While salaries are not always the best, the job satisfaction is always high as nurses are closely involved in making the lives of those they touch better. If you choose to be an air ambulance transport nurse, your professional life is, no doubt, going to be exciting. Administering medical care on airlifted patients warrants certain specific skill sets. Let’s first discuss the salaries of air ambulance transport nurses.
Salaries of Air Ambulance Transport Nurses
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses, on an average, earned $67,930 per annum. The top 10% of this group earned in excess of 94,720 while the bottom 10% earned less than $45,040. Looking specifically at the salaries earned by Air ambulance transport nurses, the salaries varied between $66,560 and $70,500 in 2011; this is in accordance with the data collected by University of Washington.
Outlook for Air Ambulance Transport Nursing as a Career
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects excellent demand for nurses in general. The employment growth is slated to hover around 26% until 2020. This growth is excellent and almost twice the projected pace of growth (14%) of all occupations in the United States.
Education of Air Ambulance Transport Nurses
As per Discover Nursing, air ambulance transport nurses need to be RN (registered nurses) first before venturing into air rescues. To become an RN one needs to opt among the following three choices:
- Bachelor’s degree in nursing
- Associate degree in nursing
- Nursing diploma
The next step is to clear National Council Licensure Examination for RN. The employers may demand additional certifications based on the demand of the job. They might expect the air ambulance transport nurse to be:
- Certified flight registered nurse
- Emergency medical technician-paramedic
- Emergency medical technician-basic
To be “certified” flight nurse, one needs to work as a flight nurse for at least two years according to Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. Working in critical care and emergency units is considered an added advantage for better employment opportunities.
It’s often a long and painful wait for an organ donor, no matter which part of the world you’re from. The number of donors around the world is much lesser than those waiting for a donor. Then, there is the issue of organ suitability. All these issues make finding an organ a prized opportunity. It is also vital that the organ reaches the recipient on time and this is where the air ambulance services often come into picture.
How Do Air Ambulance Services Help?
Air ambulance services help transport organs from the remotest of the places to the recipient in the shortest possible time. While air ambulance choppers are used for short distances, fixed wing medical aircrafts are used for longer distances. The air ambulance services are always available on-call in situations like these where a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Air ambulance services are considered 100% safe when transporting organs such as kidneys and liver. There are instances where even heart has been airlifted.
What Makes Air Ambulance Services Ideal for Organ Transport?
Two obvious reasons are the reach and the time taken by air ambulance services. The sophisticated aircrafts also provide a congenial environment for carrying the human organs. Unexpected eventualities like road blocks are virtually nonexistent. The air ambulance services also pave way to carry the patient quickly – with all necessary medical care – to a facility that specializes in organ transplantation. We need to understand that often recipients too are carried to a particular location, depending on factors such as time and availability of specialized hospitals.
The point to note is that most air ambulance services will take complete responsibility of coordinating the entire transport so that the organ reaches safely and on time. There are also insurance covers available to cover such air ambulance services. All it takes is a bit of planning and coordinated effort.