It can be a challenge to find the right provider for air ambulance transport especially when you have a lot on your plate. The good news is that you can always conduct a search online, which makes this task much easier. During this process, however, you may come across air ambulance brokers who may portray themselves so convincingly as actual air ambulance operators.
How to Differentiate Between a Provider and a Broker for Air Ambulance Transport
Although it’s common knowledge that air ambulance brokerage services aren’t a good idea, many people don’t realize this until it’s too late. So how do you spot an ambulance broker online? Here are a few basic tips to help you out:
- If there are pictures of aircrafts on the website, look for the tail numbers and see if they correspond to the aircraft model on the FAA website. You can then identify the company licensed to operate that particular aircraft.
Look for pictures where the aircraft doesn’t have a tail number or where the logos seem over imposed on the original photo. With decent photoshop skills, anyone can alter images.
- Be cautious of careful wordings on the website content. For instance, they could be saying that they “have access to” a certain aircraft even if they don’t “own and operate” that aircraft. Instead of “providing” air ambulance transport, they could be “arranging” for such transport.
- Look for the contact information and see if the company has a physical address. This is far more trustworthy than an anonymous P.O. box number. Additionally, local or geographic phone numbers are more preferable than a toll free number.
- Find out if the website has a copy of the Air Operator Certificate on display. If not, then ask them to send you a copy because no company has the right to operate an aircraft without it.
While some brokers may provide valuable service, many of them may be just on the look-out for profits. That’s why it’s mostly recommended to be aware of air ambulance brokerage services when searching for air ambulance operators online.
Transporting patients by air ambulance involves travelling long distances, which means that you need to make some preparations if you’re accompanying a loved one. You probably already know the complete process of availing air ambulance flights. However, you should also be aware of how to be the most comfortable and maintain your health during such flights.
Preparing Before the Flight
There are a number of things you need to do to ensure that you don’t suffer during the long flight:
- The day before the flight, drink plenty of water to hydrate your body. This is one of the most basic tips that some people ignore or sometimes forget but it really helps in providing a better flight experience.
- Do not consume any kind of alcohol or caffeine in the hours leading to the flight. The air inside aircrafts tends to be dry and since these substances act as dehydrators they can make your flight uncomfortable.
- If you’re prone to sinus troubles, you might want to take a decongestant one day before the flight.
- Enquire with the crew beforehand if they keep any drinks and snacks on board. If they don’t, ask if you’re allowed to bring some of your own. These can be especially useful in maintaining your hydration and blood sugar levels during long air ambulance flights.
- Be prepared with multiple layers of clothing in case the temperature inside the aircraft gets too hot or too cold. You can easily control the temperate by adding or removing layers.
- Start boosting your immune system with vitamin C supplements a few days before the flight. You can also use Echinacea supplements for this or have these with the vitamin C. A stronger immune system will help you fight off germs that are likely to circulate in the aircraft.
What to do During Air Ambulance Flights
During the flight, it’s crucial that you avoid sitting in positions that could be inhibiting to your blood circulation for long periods of time. This means that you should avoid keeping your legs crossed. You can avoid blood clots or deep vein thrombosis by stretching your legs. While the comfort and health of patients is of the utmost importance, attendants should also be able to travel comfortably for such flights.
When availing any kind of medical service, it’s always a good idea to be armed with some knowledge about the service. Even when it comes to medical transportation via air, there are a number of facts and rules patients should know. That’s why we’re going to give you a brief yet comprehensive guide on some important facts about air ambulance service.
Checklist for air ambulance service
When you’re preparing for medical transportation by air, here are a few things you should not forget:
- It would be of great help to be prepared with most of the basic patient information such as name, height, weight, date of birth, and medical condition. Additionally, you might want to specify details about special requirements such as diet and/or equipment (IV, ventilator, oxygen, etc.).
- Further, it would be helpful if you can provide other specifics like the patients’ ability to sit or whether they would require a wheelchair or stretcher. This will help the medical team in quickly and efficiently providing appropriate assistance.
- There are numerous myths surrounding air ambulance coverage, so it would be wise to read up on the facts about insurance coverage for such services. If the patient has health insurance, arrange for copies of insurance card and recent health and physical from a hospital or discharging facility. Also, keep a copy of the “face sheet” of the said hospital or facility.
- Most medical aircrafts allow only one carry-on suitcase (maximum size 21”) per passenger. If you have any excess baggage beyond this, make sure you communicate with the flight coordinator as the aircraft may not have room to accommodate it.
What about international transfers?
In case of international transfers, when availing air ambulance service, you will need to carry copies of a current non-expired passport, necessary travel documents, and visa for each passenger. For those who don’t have a copy of their passport, you will need to be prepared to provide some personal information. The required information includes full legal name and date of birth along with passport number and expiration date, home address, and place of birth.
While it’s not always easy to arrange for all this in case of emergencies, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. This will ensure that you have a smooth transaction and pleasant experience if you need emergency medical transport service by air.
Contrary to popular belief, hospitals are rarely involved in dispatch of a medical flight. The decision is almost entirely taken by the ground crew and treating doctor who determine whether the patient would benefit from an air ambulance service or not. Of course, there are some protocols that are followed. Although the process and protocols vary depending on the jurisdiction, there are certain common determinants that we discuss here.
Time Taken for Medical Flight Dispatch
It must be understood that not all hospitals have a medical flight on standby. It takes a reasonable amount of time to get the flight ready for takeoff. If this time and the time required to transport the patient is too much when compared to ground ambulance transport, the latter may be chosen. There is also a cost consideration when the difference in time advantage is too small.
Location and Distance of Transfer
This is another important criterion. Sometimes the location is too far away from the hospital and the patient’s health does not permit long travel times. Also, the location may be inaccessible through roads. In circumstances like these, the decision is usually made to opt for a medical flight to keep the patient safe.
The Condition of the Patient
This is of extreme importance. A delay by half an hour can mean the difference between life and death for the patient. In scenarios like these, a decision is taken quickly to call for an air ambulance and the patient is transported. Near-drowning, prior history or suspected stroke, and severe trauma could be some of the conditions that could influence the decision.
The Weather Conditions for the Medical Flight
If there are adverse weather conditions that prevent the choppers from flying, the patient may be transported through other means. As a matter of policy, the lives of crew members are not put to risk knowing very well that taking off in bad weather could be fatal.
It is important to understand that the above are just a few of the reasons that influence medical flight dispatch decisions. It is always the competent medical authority that takes the final decision.