Category Archives: Certifications

Air Ambulance Services and CAMTS Certification

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.

Flag of Texas

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.

What is the accreditation process for medical transport services?

Accreditation begins with an application form. The form indicates the service’s intentions to complete the process. The service then receives a Program Information Form (PIF). The PIF consists of a demographic section, a list of bases and a self-evaluation of the service, based on the CAMTS Standards. Response to the PIF self-study also requires attachments that include policies, education materials, quality management and safety processes. The PIF and attachments are submitted electronically within a year of applying for accreditation.

Once the PIF is complete and returned to the CAMTS office, it is reviewed by the CAMTS staff for completeness and sent to two Board members who will review contents for completeness and for additional questions that they document for the site surveyors. Site surveyors are then appointed, based on their experience and background related to the type of service (air/ground; fixed/rotor; critical care, ALS/BLS ground, etc.) they will visit.

The site visit is then scheduled at a time agreeable to both the service and site surveyors and at least 1 month prior to a Board of Directors meeting in order to be placed on the agenda for an accreditation decision. Once onsite the surveyors will conduct a series of interviews of personnel, look at training records, quality improvement programs, safety policies, etc. Their comments and observations are documented for the two Board members who present the program anonymously to the full Board. The programs are always presented by a six digit number – proper names and specific locations are not known by the full Board. If a Board member has a conflict of interest – he or she is excused while the program is presented and the Board deliberates.

What s CAMTS certification?

The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) is an independent non-profit corporation, comprised of representatives from twenty member organizations, each representing some component of air and ground medical transport. Representatives to the CAMTS Board of Directors bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge in their field of expertise. The Board of Directors develops and approves standards for all levels of medical transport – both air and ground. As standards are revised, they are shared with the member organizations and medical transport professionals at large for their comments and suggestions.

Accreditation by CAMTS is granted to those programs that voluntarily apply and demonstrate substantial compliance with the CAMTS Accreditation Standards. This is done through submission of documentation as well as a site survey performed by trained CAMTS surveyors, who have a depth of medical transport knowledge and experience.

Is there a governing body over the MedEvac Community?

There is no single “governing body” over medEvac services.  Each service is independent, or could be part of a group of similar programs.  There are however, several agencies that may have licensing or over sight for medEvac services.  For the aviation components, medEvac services must adhere to rules and regulations established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They are also subject to periodic inspections by the FAA.

Minimal standards for reimbursement and/or licensing could also be established by third party payers (Medicare, Medicaid, managed care organizations) or by local legislation (state, county or city laws).  Most states have minimum licensing requirements for medEvac personnel and the service.

In addition, medEvac services may also follow national or regional standards.  For those services that are hospital based, if the hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHCO) or other such organizations, such as the American College of Surgeons for trauma verification, the medEvac service must also meet those minimum standards.

What are the requirements for an ambulance driver in Florida?

An ambulance driver must meet the following requirements:

  • Is at least 18 years of age;
  • certifies under oath that he or she is not addicted to alcohol or any controlled substance, and is free from any physical or mental defect or disease that might impair their ability to drive an ambulance;
  • Upon initial designation as a driver, has not within the past 3 years, been convicted of reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance and has not had a driver’s license suspended under the point system provided for in Chapter 322, Florida Statutes;
  • successfully completed a 16 hour course of instruction on driving an authorized emergency vehicle, which includes, at a minimum, classroom and behind the wheel training.  Section 64J-1.013, Florida Administrative Code for details on the 16 hour course content;
  • possess a valid American Red Cross or National Safety Council first aid course or its equivalent; and
  • possess a valid American Red Cross or American Heart Association cardiopulmonary resuscitation card.

Reference Section 401.281, Florida Statutes and Chapter 64J-1.013, Florida Administrative Code.

FAA Publishes New Air Ambulance Regulation

The agency said it reviewed about 4,000 accidents involving helicopters in the United States, of which 75 commercial helicopter accidents (88 deaths, 29 serious injuries, 42 minor injuries) and 127 helicopter air ambulance accidents (126 deaths, 50 serious injuries, 42 minor injuries) between 1994 and 2008 involved causal factors that are addressed in the proposal.

The Federal Aviation Administration published its 36-page proposed rule this past Tuesday intended to make helicopter air ambulance flights safer nationwide. The proposal will revise Part 91 visual flight rules weather minimums, require all commercial helicopters to be equipped with radio altimeters, require air ambulance flights with medical personnel aboard to be conducted under part 135 (including flight crew time limits and rest requirements), require Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS), and require certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances to establish operations control centers. Most of these changes fulfill NTSB recommendations made in recent years.

It says they would require training and testing on weather, navigation, flight-monitoring procedures, air traffic control procedures, aircraft systems, aircraft limitations and performance; and, more frequently, on topics specific to each certificate holder, such as aviation regulations and operations specifications, crew resource management, and the local flying area.

Along with requiring a load manifest for all part 135 operations, the proposal defines the role and training of operations control specialists for helicopter air ambulance operations. They will perform safety-sensitive functions “such as providing pre-flight weather assessment, assisting with fuel planning, alternate airport weather minima, and communicating with pilots regarding operational concerns during flight. These duties are similar to those of an aircraft dispatcher, and therefore,” the rule states, “operations control specialists would be subject to the restrictions on drug and alcohol use, and to a certificate holder’s drug and alcohol testing program as described in 14 CFR part 120.”

FAA estimated the proposal will cost the industry $225 million and yield benefits ranging from $83 million to $1.98 billion during a 10-year period.