From time to time we bring you the latest developments in the air ambulance world. From the changes that the pandemic has brought about to the struggles of air ambulance charities to stay afloat, there is much happening in the space. We cover a few that have made the headlines and turned heads of the world.
Prince William Helps the Air Ambulance Industry Again
The cause of the air ambulance industry, which mainly runs on charity in the UK, is something that is very close to the heart of Prince William who has been a pilot himself. He has been seen helping organizations from time to time through various interventions. This time around, he has lent the lawn of his Kensington Palace residence to aid medical helicopters to refuel amid the pandemic. Without this option, air ambulance vehicles would have to travel an additional 20 miles. The prince is currently residing in their country home in Norfolk.
Air Ambulance Services are Serving Several Countries Amid the Pandemic
Evacuation of people has been a task that several air ambulance companies have taken up during the pandemic. Take for instance REVA a Florida-based medical flight company. Recently, the company had flown people to various parts of the United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom. In this context, it must be noted that cross-border evacuation can be quite complex, especially with lockdowns in several parts of the world.
Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Reports Shortage of Funds
This UK-based charity has reported that it has witnessed a drop of 250,000 British pounds in its funds. The organization relies heavily on public funds to stay afloat. It had been of service to over 1,700 patients last year with each mission costing about 2,000 British pounds. With the lockdown restrictions easing slowly, the demand for its services is expected to grow and the charity is sure to be in a fix to meet this demand.
It was a normal family outing for 11-year-old Emilia, fondly referred to as Millie by her family. Never had they dreamt that soon they would be in need of an air ambulance service. The family was out on a horse riding activity when all of a sudden Emilia fell off her pony. That was not all, further aggravating the situation was the fact that the pony’s hoof landed on her jaw. The little girl’s jaw was shattered, and she was in immense pain as the family watched helplessly. That is when the air ambulance service arrived, right in time to offer much-needed help.
The Air Ambulance Service was Crucial
North West Air Ambulance Service was quick to reach the spot and immediately administered morphine to relieve the pain. Once that was accomplished the girl was evacuated to a medical facility where she received jaw correction treatment. The evacuation was done through a land ambulance, but the initial treatment offered by the air ambulance service was crucial. She also got replacement teeth as a few had been lost due to the accident.
The Parents Express their Gratitude
The mother of the child was a first-hand witness to the accident, and she described the incident as horrifying. She was thankful for the air ambulance service that arrived in time for support and treatment. The family, as a mark of gratitude, arranged a charitable event to raise funds for the air ambulance. It was an equestrian event and they managed to raise about 600 British pounds. The family also said that they would do everything in their means to contribute to the medical flight organization. It must be noted in this context that in the United Kingdom, air ambulances depend on charitable contributions by the community to stay afloat. The accident occurred in July, and the girl has now recovered and is healthy.
The air ambulance charities in the United Kingdom are no strangers to celebrity endorsements, Prince William being of the most noticeable among them. However, recently, the industry has found a new patron and that is none other than Gordon Ramsey of the Hell’s Kitchen fame. The celebrity chef has quite a fan following owing to his fiery on-screen critique of various cuisines and cooks. He is also quite popular for his Twitter outreach where he grades food of common people who come to him for validation. His quirky replies are quite a hit in the online community. A celebrity with outreach like this can do loads of good for air ambulance charities.
Cornwall Air Ambulance has Been Gordon’s Choice
It is reported that Gordon Ramsey and his wife have recently spent quite some time in the Cornwall area. During their stay, they have come to realize the important roles that air ambulance charities play to maintain public health. It has this realization that has pushed the couple to help the industry. The organization attends to about 800 incidents, which puts the number to over 2 incidents per day and that is quite commendable.
The Endorsement is Much Needed
Most of the air ambulance charities have been struggling to stay afloat in recent times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the United Kingdom, where most air ambulance organizations are charity-based, funding is dependent on community efforts. However, with the highly infectious pandemic gripping the nation, charitable activities have been hard to organize. In this situation, a celebrity like Gordon Ramsey can do a lot of good.
Speaking about his decision, Gordon said, “Cornwall has been our family home now for five years and we have always been totally in awe of the lifesaving work we see the Cornwall Air Ambulance do every day.”
Air ambulance evacuations can throw situations at crew members that they are not always prepared for. It is simply the nature of the job. It is impossible to imagine all kinds of situations one might encounter. It is therefore necessary to have a coordination mechanism in place where help can be sought with minimum wastage of time. The coordination could be between ground ambulances, treating or receiving facilities and even cross-nation institutions. At times, it becomes necessary to coordinate between legal teams when the evacuation involves getting a patient from overseas locations. It is vital that one chooses an air ambulance company that is well experienced, in the interest of fluidity in evacuation.
International Air Ambulance Repatriations are Especially Hard
Rules and legislations differ from country to country. You never know what bureaucratic red tape is flung at the crew without forewarning. In cases like these, it is vital that the air ambulance company has a lawyer handy. You would need someone who is well versed in local laws as well as international ones. Failure to procure help in time can lead to legal troubles and unnecessary delay which can prove to be detrimental t the health of the patient.
Coordination with Ground and Hospital Crews
The ground crew does not always belong to the same organization as the air ambulance. Also, the crew usually has to deal with a different ground ambulance organization with each evacuation. Many times, it is their first time dealing with a ground ambulance crew and their organizational rules might be different. The medical fight crew needs to understand their functioning well in advance for smooth transition.
The same goes with the hospital teams too. It is therefore advisable to establish common grounds in advance. It is because of situations like these that most well-organized medical flight companies employ a separate team to take care of these eventualities.
Of course, it all begins with the aircraft model that a medical flight company purchases. Each aircraft is different in some way or the other. However, once the purchase is made, there are certain aspects that one must consider to ensure that the medical flight is fit and convenient enough to provide the healthcare that is expected of it. Here, we discuss a few of those in some detail.
The Floor of the Medical Flight
The floor is a very critical part of the medical flight. It must be such that the in-flight as well as maintenance crew must be able to clean it efficiently and quickly. The emergencies that come a medical flight’s way can involve a lot of blood and other elements, which need to be cleaned out as quickly as possible to maintain hygiene. This might necessitate floor drains and the design must be such that modifications like these can be easily made. Also, the floor can see a lot of heavy equipment which is often moved with little care for the floor itself, so the floor must be sturdy enough to take such abuse.
Important Considerations that Must be Kept in Mind
Today, it is necessary that an aircraft has modern connection facilities such as USBs. Customization is another factor. Depending on the situation, the crew must be able to quickly put in cabins, add/remove seats and/or stretchers. Proper mounts for medical devices must already be in place. While all such facilities bring in a high level of convenience, safety remains the primary concern. For this reason, all the modifications must be certified by a competent agency.
Care must be taken to make use of the space available to the maximum. For instance, the stretcher must be able to double up as a bed that can be immobilized on the flight. Plus, the space beneath the stretcher could be used for storage by building custom cabinets. It is obvious that a one-size-fits-all approach generally does not work; however, a creative approach to the medical flight interiors can go a long way to make it comfortable and efficient.
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.
Our soldiers lay their life on the line to keep the borders of United States safe. They surge ahead on the battlefield with a sense of purpose backing them in dangerous situations. There’s no doubt that these soldiers when they retire from active duty, are well respected throughout the country, but they’re not devoid of problems with adjustment in civilian life.
These highly skilled and disciplined patriots often find it tough to fit in the civilian environment, especially in the professional front. The reason is simple, they fail to find meaning in the professional life as a civilian after years of purposeful profession. Medical flight services bring veterans respite.
Medical Flight Services have a Greater Meaning
Just like the military that saves lives by acting beyond borders, medical flight services saves lives back home. For veterans the profession gives a sense of purpose. Also, the life in the military is always fast-paced and so is the life of people involved in medical flight services. The military also trains the personnel in several aspects that are well-suited in the medical flight services industry. Of course, being able to fly the aircraft is a big advantage if the veteran has been a military pilot. Then, there are also other roles such as helping evacuate wounded military personnel, flight coordination, and experience in emergency medical services. Such skills are in high demand in the air ambulance industry which is rapidly growing today.
The Pay in Medical Flight Services is Pretty Good
Like all professions the pay depends on experience, but with a strong background of dealing with medical emergencies, military personnel have a better chance of making it big in a relatively short period of time in medical flight services. In fact, pilots and emergency medical personnel are actively sought by medical flight services in the country by major service providers.
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.
Availing a medical flight can be quite intimidating, especially considering the stress of caring for a loved one who is already in distress. Here, we bring you a typical medical flight trip and how things usually pan out. In fact, we walk you through the entire process.
What Happens When You Contact a Medical Flight?
When you call a medical flight company, you will be greeted by customer support first who would collect certain basic information and then transfer you to a case manager or flight coordinator. Here pertinent information related to the medical flight would be relayed to you. This is the time that you can raise any initial concerns such as average flight cost, flight timing, distance, and accompanying the patient. You will be asked to confirm payment arrangement for the medical flight. Feel free to take help of the treating physician and hospital staff if you are not able to answer questions relating to the patients condition or ailment.
The Medical Flight Coordination Begins
The information gathered from you will be relayed to the medical director of the air ambulance provider. The director will, in turn, get in touch with the attending physician. The attending physician would lay down the medical necessities of the patient so that the flight can be prepared accordingly. This includes qualified staff as well as medical equipment, and also information regarding transfer to an appropriate medical facility.
On the Day of Medical Flight
The medical flight company will get in touch with all those involved in the transport of the patient, including the hospital staff. The ground ambulance would take the patient up to the medical flight and the patient would be taken onboard. The patient and the person accompanying would be briefed on safety precautions and the dos and don’ts.
Upon reaching the destination, a ground ambulance would be already waiting to ferry the patient to the medical facility which is pre-decided. The patient is carefully offloaded and reconnected to any vital medical equipment in the ground ambulance as necessary. The medical flight team would brief the receiving medical staff about the patient’s condition before signing off.
The onus of arranging and coordinating between medical facilities, ambulances and the medical flight is taken care by the hospital and the air ambulance staff. All you would need to do is take care of the payment procedure and pray for the good health of the patient.
The question has been long debated in the medical circles and the civilian population, especially considering the growing costs of hiring air ambulances. Here, we discuss a few arguments against the efficacy of air ambulances and point out why these arguments hold no water.
Publication on Air Ambulances by University of Texas Medical Branch
This research dates back over a decade. So, discounting the fact that the traffic as well as the overall population has increased today, we still go by the argument presented in the publication. The study was conducted taking into consideration data that followed 24 months after a hospital discontinued air ambulances and comparing it with the data 12 months preceding the discontinuation of air ambulances.
The study concluded that the discontinuation of the air ambulances did not increase death rate of patients with trauma or increase the transport time. Now, a lot of people arguing against the necessity of air ambulances might cite this finding. However, looking at the “abstract” of the publication, it is apparent that a few vital factors have not been considered.
Without the Air Ambulances, did the Same Number of Patients Reach the Hospital?
That’s the important question. The study says admissions to trauma unit decreased 12%. There was a whopping 17% decrease in admissions involving severe injuries. With the number of road accidents on the rise in the United States continuously, it seems surprising to see the number of emergency cases being reported to a hospital decreasing.
One explanation could be that those cases which demanded urgent attention did not actually receive it due to unavailability of air ambulances. That certainly is not an encouraging sign. The air ambulance networks that are available today can not only reach the patients on time and take them to the nearest appropriate facility, but also offer life-saving treatments during the flight. In fact, we have highlighted the need to get the patients adequate treatments before the golden hour earlier in one of our reports.
People who argue against the need of air ambulances must take the whole picture into consideration before making such sweeping statements.