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How You Can Help if a Medical Flight Lands Near You

You cannot deny the fact that a medical flight landing near your home or workplace can generate some excitement. Naturally, the inquisitive you would want to know what is happening. We all know that medical flights can perform tracheotomy to minor amputations on the spot. As a responsible person, you might want to help the injured or even the crew. As such noble thoughts run through your mind, you might not realize that you are putting yourself at risk. You might wonder how that is possible. This risk is precisely what we discuss here.

Help the Medical Flight by Helping Yourself

It takes no rocket science to understand that a medical flight or any helicopter, for that matter, needs enough space to land. In your enthusiasm, do not block the landing space. Better still, ask the fellow onlookers to make way for the medical flight to land.

Medical flights exert quite some down-thrust which can simply throw around kids, small pets, and loosely held objects. Stay away from such objects or secure them, while also holding your pets and kids so that they are safe.

Protecting your eyes from the dust that might be roused by the medical flight is important. You do not want to end up being a medical emergency yourself and burden the air ambulance crew.

Offering Personal Help is a Strict No

It is highly unlikely that bystanders are asked for help during medical flight emergencies. Do not approach the crew with an offer to help. You might simply be obstructing their work. Think of it; the crew is usually comprised of experienced paramedics, nurses, doctors and pilots who know their job well. In the event that your help is required, rest assured, they will ask for it. Unless that happens, the best thing that you can do is keep yourself out of harm’s way.

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.

A Quick Guide to Know US Air Ambulance Industry Better – Frequently Used Terms

There’s a lot happening in the US air ambulance industry at the current time with people opposing high bills, law makers coming up with newer regulations, and medical flight companies demanding more accountability from the health insurance industry. These happenings will, ultimately, affect the common US citizens. Here’s a glossary of sorts that allows you to understand certain points pertaining to the US air ambulance industry.

ADA of 1978 – the act that governs US Air Ambulance Industry

ADA stands for Airlines Deregulation Act. It was enacted in the year 1978 and has since governed the aviation industry in general. This is a federal act and prevents the states from interfering in the affairs of US air ambulance service providers when it comes to price, route and service.

FAA Reauthorisation Act

The abbreviation FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration – the body that regulates aviation services in the US. The Reauthorisation Act is currently under consideration. If passed, it will give the states the ability to interfere in the matters pertaining to price, route and service, but only when it comes to the US air ambulance industry. The Act is a response to people’s demand to the government to look into the skyrocketing medical flight bills.

In-Network Air Ambulance Service Providers

Most US air ambulance companies have an understanding with insurance providers to cover their services, at least in a given location. These medical flight companies are considered “in-network” by the insurance providers, and mostly, full coverage is given if their subscribers opt for these medical flight companies.

Balance Billing

In most instances insurance companies only cover a part of the air ambulance bills. The medical flight companies are forced to cover the remaining money from the patients directly. In other words the balance amount is billed to the consumers.

ADA Pre-emption

The ADA of 1978 is clear that states cannot interfere in the affairs of US air ambulance companies when it comes to price, route and service as mentioned above. If an air ambulance company is sued with regards to any of these, it enjoys pre-emption from such lawsuits.

US Air Ambulance Memberships

Most US air ambulance companies offer annual memberships at a nominal fee. These members enjoy complete insulation from balance billing. The membership is an additional layer of protection over and above the health insurance.

Night Vision Goggles Make Air Ambulances More Accessible and Safe

Air ambulance companies across the United States are investing thousands and sometimes millions of dollars on night vision goggles. While a part of this move is a regulatory requirement, they certainly make air ambulance evacuations much safer. They are especially helpful for helicopters that land in rather precarious landing pads. It is believed that air ambulance helicopters answer about 2,000 calls for patient transfers each year, and at least 10 percent of these are emergency calls. The night vision goggles enable the air ambulance service providers to offer wider services.

Not All Emergency Calls are Taken up by Air Ambulance Helicopters

Emergencies, of course, can occur at any time of the day or night; however, air ambulance choppers cannot respond to all of those, owing to pilot and crew safety. The issue of safety crops up mainly during the nights due to poor visibility. Night goggles can make the skies safer for the medical flight crew. One direct consequence of this would be that medical flights would be able to respond to more emergencies during the night. It also becomes easier to spot the victims who are stranded in thinly populated, treacherous areas without any immediate help.

The Connection between Air Ambulance Cost and Night Vision Goggles

A night vision goggle typically costs about 12,000 dollars. When an air ambulance is not in use, it still incurs maintenance charges, which ultimately is borne by the patients who avail the services. Now, think of a scenario where the air ambulance is employed more. This means that the maintenance charge would be divided among more people, making each flight cheaper. The people of United States are currently reeling under high air ambulance costs and a lot is being spoken about it. Considering that the night vision goggles only cost about 12,000 dollars, this could be a welcome addition.

How to Book a Medical Flight?

Booking a medical flight can seem like a daunting task, especially in light of the fact that you would be booking an entire airplane for yourself. However, it is entirely different from booking a charter plane. In most cases, all you need to do is make a call to set things up. Here, we bring you a rough step-wise guide. Although the process may vary slightly depending on the medical flight provider, it would broadly remain the same.

Begin with a Simple Call to the Medical Flight Provider

Better still, you can simply fill an online form requesting the provider to contact you. Remember, at this stage, you are merely asking for price quotes and evaluating the options before you. Do not commit to booking a medical flight at this point. Also, it is recommended that you call multiple medical flight providers before zeroing on one. Expect questions like your current location, destination, and the diagnosis of the patient. Most providers will get back to you within 30 minutes and give you a price quote.

Ask What the Cost Covers

Ideally, the costs should include ground transport from and to the hospital and airport, medical crew and aircraft charges, equipment fee, landing fee, and a few other miscellaneous fees that should not amount to a lot. If any of these are left out, proactively ask about them so that you get a clear idea of what you are getting into.

Confirmation and the Ensuing Process

Once you confirm that you want to take the medical flight services from a particular provider, you will be asked for personal details like name, date of birth, weight, etc. You will also be asked about the desired time and date of transportation. You will have to give your passport details if you are flying international. You will have to specify whether a person would be accompanying you and also the amount of luggage that you would be carrying.

Preparing for Medical Flight when Time is On Your Side

A medical flight becomes a necessity when travelling long distances on commercial flights is impossible, owing to the level of care that the patient’s health demands. On the brighter side, it gives the family members enough time to prepare for one. There are several things that the medical flight service provider will help the family and the patient with. However, being knowledgeable about certain aspects of the travel makes it easier for the family. The family must be prepared with the history and physical as well as the discharge summary of the patient, along with copies of insurance cards. Government issued identification is also necessary.

Limitations while Availing a Medical Flight Service

The patient’s family must understand that the medical flight is designed for the patient and carries a huge amount of medical equipment. Unlike, a commercial flight, it is not exactly designed for normal commuters. So, the family members must consult with the medical flight provider as to the maximum luggage that can be carried. It is usually about a 21-inch roller bag that is allowed. Some air ambulances do not allow for family members to accompany the patient in the medical flight; however, most of them accommodate at least one family member. It all depends on the space available and the size of the air ambulance. A quick check with the flight coordinator is always a wise move.

Availing International Air Ambulance Services

It is a given that the family must ensure that the patient’s passport, visa, travel documents and insurance are in place. It is advisable to also carry electronic copies of all the documents for easy retrieval and backup. A detailed discussion regarding the receiving hospital and the logistics between the airport and the hospital is advised. While experienced medical flight coordinators cover such things, there is no harm in knowing the details.

Ensuring Medical Air Transport Coverage Beyond Health Insurance

Americans today seem to have a false sense of security thinking that everything related to their medical wellbeing is automatically covered by health insurance. The reality is far from this belief. The health insurance providers differentiate between hospital expenses and medical air transport. While a good insurance will cover almost the entire medical treatment bill, the same insurance would hardly cover one-third of the medical air transport bill. To make matters worse, the medical air transport cost, even for short distances, sometimes is very high.

Why are Medical Air Transport Costs so High?

Maintaining helicopters and airplanes is no child’s play. It’s an expensive affair. Plus, keeping emergency professionals on standby at all times means additional costs. All these expenses, of course, have to be ultimately borne by the patients availing the services or the health insurance providers. The insurance providers only cover the in-network medical air transport services, and since insurance companies tend to disagree with the high bills that air ambulance companies generate, they only end up covering a part of it. This dissuades these companies to go in-network with the insurance carriers.

There is a Way Out and It Does not Cost Much

All it takes is a bit of planning. When you know well that insurance companies do not cover the expenses fully, exploring other options is the wise thing to do. There are several agencies that specialize in providing medical transport coverage. The costs are nominal and the coverage is usually good. They cover those expenses which are left uncovered by the insurance companies. So, in today’s world while ensuring medical insurance coverage is important, it is equally important to also keep yourself and your family covered for medical air transport emergencies. Failing to do so, can land you in a financial mess that can take years to clean up.

Guide to Handle Medical Air Transport Bills

While medical air transport is, no doubt, a life-saving necessity, the bills that the service generates can be quite shocking in most instances. The one belief that lands people in a financial mess is that having a medical insurance is enough to cover the medical air transport bill. Nothing could be far from reality. Insurance companies usually have a tie-up with only a few air ambulance companies. The rest of the companies are considered “out of network” by these insurance providers. What makes it worse is that medical emergencies do not always allow people to choose the in-network companies. When it’s a question of life and death, the quickest service is always the first priority.

Medical Air Transport Requirements are Real – Plan Them

“Prevention is better than cure” and this saying holds true for medical air transport planning. People need to get out of denial thinking, “Oh, that’s a farfetched requirement for me.” Memberships are offered by most air ambulance companies at a very reasonable price. Availing these is the wisest thing you can do.

What if You Do Not Have Air Ambulance Coverage or Membership?

Let’s consider a scenario where you end up with a huge medical air transport bill and you’re absolutely unable to pay it; plus your health insurance refuses to cover it. Get in touch with the air ambulance company, tell them your financial status and make it clear to them what you can pay. Most companies will agree to what you can pay (or at least a figure close to it). The reason is simple – a smaller payment is better than no payment at all.

You can request them for a payment plan, if you think you can pay it over a period of time. Also, negotiate with your health insurance company and try to get them to pay more. Do not shy away from taking legal opinion if it comes to that.

Choosing the Right Air Ambulance Services

It’s not every time that you get to choose the air ambulance services of your choice – after all emergencies do not knock the door before entering your life. But during those times that you do get to choose the right one for you, it pays (literally) to be well prepared. So, what are those parameters that you need to look at? That’s precisely the question we answer here.

How Experienced are the Personnel Hired by the Air Ambulance Services?

This is the foremost question that you need to ask. Remember, once onboard the air ambulance, the patient’s well being is entirely in the hands of these medical professionals. While most air ambulance services are particular about experienced staff, it is always wise to proactively ask about it. Four to five years is a decent benchmark.

Insurance Coverage

That’s a big one. Simply put, you do not want to come home to a huge medical bill welcoming you with open arms, only to engulf you in a lifetime of debt. Remember, out-of-coverage air ambulance services are not what you want. So, always know what your health insurance carrier covers. Know whether and to what extent your insurance covers air ambulance services.

Explore Cheaper Alternatives

Not all situations demand that you have an entire air ambulance to yourself. Air Ambulance stretchers and air medical escorts are alternatives that you can weigh. Of course, your treating physician is the one who will give you the best perspective here.

Non-Medical Support from Air Ambulance Services

Does the air ambulance service provider also have insurance specialists? How effective is their logistics team? Do they arrange for ambulances from the landing area to the hospital? These are some of the questions that you need to ask.

Look for Reviews Pertaining to Air Ambulance Services

Testimonials, social media pages, and review websites are ideal for some research about the air ambulances services. If a lot of the patients have had bad experiences, you are better off steering clear of such a provider.

Do You Have the Mental Build to Be an Air Ambulance Paramedic?

While an air ambulance is extremely important to get the patient the care that he or she deserves right when it is needed, it is the paramedics who make sure that the patient gets adequate care in the interim. The situations that paramedics find themselves in are invariably stressful. What makes a great paramedic is the ability to function intelligently under stress. If you are mulling a career as an air ambulance paramedic, you need to do some amount of introspection before you get into it.

The Personality Prerequisites of an Air Ambulance Paramedic

  • Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
  • Am I usually calm and contained when faced with stressful situations?
  • Am I a quick thinker?
  • How is my level of physical fitness?
  • How good are my problem-solving and analytical skills?
  • Am I a team player?
  • How good am I at remembering guidelines and protocols?
  • Do I communicate effectively enough?
  • Do I judge people? Am I a tolerant person?
  • Do I enjoy working with people who have diverse backgrounds?
  • Can I commit myself to a life of continuous learning?

The Pay is Good and the Work is Challenging

Touching human lives on a daily basis is something that drives certain individuals. However, one needs to take into consideration other factors like qualifications. It is also a lot of hard physical work at times. Once you take into considerations these factors, if you still feel that you have it in you to become an air ambulance paramedic, you should definitely go for it. Keep in mind that the wages you earn will be in tune with your qualification and your experience. So, patience is a virtue that you must possess. Finally, always choose qualifications that are internationally recognized.