Category Archives: Air Ambulance Facts

Airambulance Guide: Altitude Decompression Sickness

Altitude decompression sickness is not unique to airambulance flights or to patients alone. It is a condition that is generally associated with high altitudes. It was only in the 1930s that this phenomenon was recognized by the medical community. The problem was observed in aircrafts as well as high-altitude hot-air balloons. Today, we have a better understanding of altitude decompression sickness, but still, we are not insulated from the dangers of this medical condition. It is a must that medical crews aboard airambulance flights are well aware of this. Here, we explain this condition in simpler terms.

This is What Airambulance Crew Members Need to be Aware of

The basis for understanding altitude decompression sickness is Henry’s Law, which says, “When the pressure of a gas over a liquid is decreased, the amount of gas dissolved in that liquid will also decrease.”

The concept is best explained with the example of soda. What do you observe when the bottle is opened? The formerly ‘calm’ liquid suddenly sees a flurry of activities. The air bubbles that previously were nonexistent suddenly show an insane urgency to escape the bottle, pushing their way through the liquid. Why does this happen? The answer is Henry’s Law.

When the bottle is sealed, the pressure inside is at a constant high, but when it is opened, the liquid is exposed to pressure in the atmosphere outside the bottle, which is comparatively much lower, so much of the gas escapes the liquid.

How Does Henry’s Law Relate to Human Body?

Human beings have high amounts of nitrogen gas throughout the body. When the airambulance is flying at high altitudes, if the cabin is not pressurized, the possibility is that nitrogen will escape the body, owing to the decreased atmospheric pressure that prevails at high altitudes. Of course, modern airambulance vehicles are well insulated from such dangers and can safely travel at high altitudes.

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.

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.