Choosing the right Air Ambulance Company for your Medical Flight : An Insider’s Guide to a swift life flight

What does a life flight mean? 

A term with ambiguous meanings, a life flight most commonly refers to air ambulance services. It englobes several modes of air transportation that allow patients to be transported from one location to another, be it an air ambulance helicopter or airplane. 

The specificities of an air ambulance, in comparison to a commercial plane, are by reason of the design and equipment of the plane. When it comes to a life flight, there must be the necessary infrastructure in place to provide treatment and care to patients while they are traveling from one location to another. In ambulance planes, this comes in the form of medical equipment and qualified staff. In Medical Air Service’s case, our air ambulances are fitted with modern medical equipment to ensure patient safety throughout the trip. At your disposal are the appliances and devices usually found in an ICU and more can be arranged for, depending on your specific needs. Correspondingly, our staff on board are doctors and paramedics who are qualified and experienced to provide treatment mid-air. 

doctor and medical plane

When it comes to equipment and staff, the experience can carry the impression that you are traveling via a ground ambulance. Nonetheless, an air ambulance travels by air, which means that it is able to cover longer distances within a considerably shorter amount of time. Thus, it is ideal to travel long haul, whether you are traveling within the same country or to a different one.

Medical Air Service operates globally, so patients can travel to any country across the globe. 

Who needs a life flight? 

There might be the assumption that air ambulance services are not really in demand. However, that is not the case: more people than you might think have found themselves requiring an air ambulance and it is useful to individuals in diverse situations. Who needs life flight? 

2.1 Sick people 

Anyone with a form of illness that prevents them from traveling on a commercial flight would have to opt for air ambulance services if they need to travel. These can be both life-threatening and non-life-threatening diseases. 

Life-threatening:
Patients with serious diseases often need constant medical care or they have to be permanently connected to a medical device. They need life flights to ensure that their health does not deteriorate while they are flying. For instance, someone with respiratory problems has to be intubated at all times or a baby has to remain in a pediatric incubator when traveling. An air ambulance can be deployed very quickly, often within two days which ensures that patients who need to travel urgently for treatment in another country are able to receive the necessary care en route. 

Some of the cases of the most common life-threatening diseases that we usually handle when organizing patient transport are:

  • Heart diseases
  • Stroke
  • Pneumothorax
  • Coronary Artery Disease

Non-life threatening:
Those with non-life-threatening diseases but are unable to travel on a commercial flight also opt for our air ambulance services to avoid increasing potential risks to their health. For instance, after a heart attack, the patient is out of imminent danger but the strains of flying commercially may be harmful to their heart.

Examples of non-life-threatening medical conditions that we have considerable experience with are:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Anemia 
  • Fever, minor pains and aches, etc.
  • Pregnancy
  • Mental health diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and others. 

2.2 The elderly

Assumably, the majority of the third-age population is less fit than the rest. Old age, linked with other factors, results in individuals needing assistance to perform even mundane tasks. Additionally, an increase in age often coincides with medical complications, which makes air ambulances necessary for the elderly when they are traveling.

woman on wheelchair

2.3 Individuals with an injury

An injury, resulting from an accident or such an event may require the use of an air ambulance since you are unable sit upright for the duration of the flight and have to lie down on a stretcher. While in some cases, a stretcher can be installed in a commercial plane, this depends on the airline’s approval and is not possible in the majority of cases. 

Common injuries that might occur abroad are:

  • Strains or sprains
  • Knee, back or other injuries
  • A spinal cord injury
  • Concussions
  • Fractures 

2.4 Covid-19 

Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 cannot fly on a commercial plane, simply because of the risk of infecting other passengers and the crew. No airline company will endanger its colleagues and clients. However, transporting a Covid-19 positive patient is possible on an air ambulance since there will be no other passengers on board and isolating devices have made it possible to ensure that the traveller is secluded throughout the flight. 

Why is a life flight required? 

Why is a life flight necessary? In most cases, a medical flight is essential for their health and often even their survival. Let’s look at some of the common reasons why people opt for an air ambulance services to travel. 

3.1 Low-quality healthcare in their current country

While this is something unfortunate, it remains a fact: The healthcare industry in several countries in the world is not developed enough to offer adequate treatment, especially to patients suffering from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, organ failures and other serious diseases. The situation is even more distressing for sick children. With specialized treatment, proper medical equipment or specialist doctors not available in their current country, patients prefer to travel to another location where they have the chance of benefiting from advanced technologies for their medical procedures and treatment, thus increasing their probability of recovery or even survival.

3.2 Language barriers

Language barrier is a serious issue, especially when you are sick. If while traveling, you fall ill and you get stuck in a medical center where you do not understand, and cannot communicate in, the language spoken, you will encounter complications on a dual level. First of all, you will not be able to communicate with the treating doctor and nurses, which means not being able to convey the specificities of your disease and injury properly. This might lead to a wrong diagnosis and inaccurate treatment being administered. In a similar vein, the doctor will not be able to properly relay essential information about your condition, treatment and progress or about the next step forward. 

3.3 Save on costs 

In some cases, being abroad implies that you have to spend twice as much than you usually would in your home country. This is specially the case for medical expenses, which can be exorbitant and even get you into debt, if, for example, if you are in the United States (US) and you do not have medical insurance. Thus, it is often more cost-effective for you to get back to your home country where healthcare services might be free, or covered by your medical insurance. 

medical costs

3.4 Experimental treatment abroad

Even if countries like the UK or the US have a high-quality healthcare system, citizens and residents travel to other countries because of experimental treatments being tested or developed abroad. In these cases, the patient is in a critical condition which does not have existing treatment or cure. Thus, hoping for some miracle, they opt to travel to be part of a clinical trial. 

3.5 To be closer to their loved ones

Support from your family and friends is essential when you are sick, which is one of the main reasons behind patients opting for air ambulance services. Instead of being stuck in an unknown country, it is better both for your mental and physical health to return to your own country when you are sick. Being in familiar surroundings where you feel comfortable and secure will decrease any form of stress experienced and fasten your recovery process.

3.6 Get treated by your own doctor

Along the same lines, patients prefer being treated by their own doctor since the latter is acquainted with their case. The professionals are aware of the necessary medical history and have adequate experience treating the patients. Thus, they will have the proper knowledge to administer necessary care efficiently and without wasting time. Simultaneously, this will increase the confidence of the patients, who will be more cooperative and responsive to the treatment. 

How to make sure that your air ambulance flight is a success? 

The primary aim of an air ambulance is to transport patients to another location safely. With the main goal being that the passenger can travel without encountering medical complications, your priority, when preparing for the flight, is to ensure that the air ambulance service provider is able to cater to the patient’s demands medically. The reliability and efficiency of a company can be attested by the measures it takes to protect patients traveling on its planes. An ambulance flight is a success once the patient has reached his destination safely. What are some of the factors that you must keep in mind to ensure a secure and successful trip? 

4.1 Latest medical equipment on board the flight

One of the key differences between a commercial flight and an air ambulance is the equipment with which the plane is outfitted. For a life flight, you require a plane that contains medical equipment needed by patients subject to their medical condition. The range and quality of the appliances used are crucial to the success of the mission.

ICU equipment on plane

First of all, the company must be able to deploy appliances available in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and more. Additionally, considering the sensitive nature of the mission and that the survival of patients is at play, there should be no compromise with regard to the quality of the equipment used. Medical Air Service promises a complete range of state-of-the-art equipment to ensure constant supervision and care for patients traveling onboard its planes. Besides the standard ICU equipment which is fitted in all its planes, it can even provide additional ones if they are needed by the patient. For instance, special pediatric equipment, such as neonatal incubators or ventilators, might be needed to transport infants. Not only can Medical Air Service provide these appliances but it also ensures that they are the latest ones of the highest quality ensuring high-level care and treatment are being given. 

4.2  Experienced medical crew on board 

Medical appliances are not adequate enough to cater to patients’ needs during a flight. Essential to the equation are doctors and paramedics who are going to bear the responsibility of the sick traveler during the trip. They will supervise the patient’s condition, care for him and intervene in case there are complications that occur during the flight.

A key factor here is the experience of the medical crew in the aeromedical field. Procuring treatment quickly and efficiently on a flight requires a specific skill set that is gained by undertaking this role for a considerable amount of time, which is why Medical Air Service places considerable importance on providing you with experienced doctors in the domain for each of its flights. They are able to take on the task of medically supervising the patient onboard the plane and during transfers at the airport as well. Thanks to their background, savoir-faire, kindness, and sense of empathy, the patient and his family members can remain relaxed and confident during the flight. 

4.3 Thorough fit-to-fly assessment 

As part of the preparations for an ambulance flight, you are required to go through a fit-to-fly assessment. This is a medical examination conducted before the flight. What is the purpose of this evaluation? An essential part of the assessment is to determine whether the patients are strong or stable enough to travel. In some cases, it is not recommended for patients to fly, even on an air ambulance plane that is similar to an ICU. The stress and strains of the trip might be too demanding for patients who are already in a strenuous situation.

During the fit-to-fly evaluation, doctors will assess patients’ condition and the risks of the flight to determine whether they can fly safely. Medical Air Service has a team of experts available to examine patients’ medical reports and related documentation and to advise on the best way forward accordingly. Completely transparent and honest, we will advise on not going forward with the flight if it is deemed too risky since the safety of the patient is our priority

4.4 Constant communication between ground and air 

A medical evacuation or repatriation mission necessitates thorough preparation and planning to make sure that it is a success. Considering the gravity of the situation, misunderstandings, miscommunication or any other types of mistake can be critical. These mishaps can be avoided by ensuring constant and real-time communication between all parties involved. At Medical Air Service, our agents are experts in the aeromedical sphere and have years of experience in organizing flights. Aware of all the issues that need to be taken care of, they address everything and organize a smooth flight by liaising with all the parties involved. Before and during the flight, our agents will constantly communicate with the doctors from the departing hospital, the in-flight one and the receiving medical facility. As such, all the doctors involved will be aware of any developments with regard to the patient’s health and they will be able to prepare themselves and act more quickly and efficiently.

aviation experts

Additional factors to be taken into consideration for a swift life flight 

The success of the air ambulance mission is also dependent on the organizational aspect, more specifically on how professional, efficient and quick those in charge of the life flight are. An experienced player will be able to deal with all complexities so that the patient does not have to endure stress during the journey. How to recognize an expert air ambulance company? 

5.1 Assess how quickly the company responds to the request

Long hours waiting for an agent on the phone, waiting days before someone gets back to you, not having your concerns addressed… If you are going through this situation, then you are dealing with the wrong company. In matters of medical evacuations/repatriations, time is critical and operations must be completed, not only quickly but efficiently as well. Moreover, the company must always be available to answer your questions, clear your doubts and assist you in any way possible. 

Medical Air Service has aviation experts working round the clock to ensure that we can address your demands and concerns at any time and that we can promptly start working on your case to organize your flight as quickly as possible. Responsive, quick and efficient, our aviation experts are available at any time either by mail or by phone. The initial request can even be made via our contact form on our website and they will get back to you as soon as possible. 

5.2 Check out the company’s accreditations and experience in the sector

As a customer, a company’s accreditations will help you determine if it, at the very least, meets minimum quality standards and to assess if the company is a reliable one. The certifications, accreditation types or reports will help you gauge the integrity and level of expertise of the air ambulance service provider. For instance, the quality management at Medical Air Service is certified according to the DIN ISO 9001 standards. This international standard determines the requirements for a quality management system and it shows that the company has been consistently providing services that are in accordance with regulatory requirements. Both TÜV SÜD and Bureau Veritas back up our quality management. 

When it comes to experience, the longer a company has been operating in a particular field, the greater are its opportunities to perfect its products or services. With regards to the aviation industry, an air ambulance service provider is able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of planning a flight. Medical Air Service, a company established in 2009, has been able to position itself in the market as an expert because it is able to plan a swift life flight rapidly and efficiently. This also allows it to devise the most suitable air ambulance solution for you depending on your situation. Medical Air Service has conducted missions involving various types of medical conditions, whether they are injuries, life-threatening and non-life-threatening illnesses or even Covid-19. 

5.3 Go over the number of services it offers 

To ensure a swift life flight, it is important to go over the number of services that are offered by the air ambulance company. This will ensure that it is able to cater to all your needs and wishes and have a solution readily available if you change your mind during the planning process or if an emergency crops up. For instance, it must have access to huge ambulance fleet stationed worldwide consisting of different types of airplanes and helicopters. This will ensure that there is an aircraft at your disposal if you want to travel via a bigger airplane, for example.

air ambulance

This is applicable not only to the number or types of aircraft available, but also to the types of services on offer. Life flight encompasses a myriad of services that can range from commercial medical escorts, ambulance helicopters, ambulance planes, or bed-to-bed services. Not only does Medical Air Service offer these services, but it will also advise you on the best solution to opt for according to your situation.

Final tips to ensure the credibility of a company 

You might still have some apprehensions about a firm, especially if this is your first time traveling on, or organizing a trip via, an air ambulance. One way of obtaining complete reassurance about the company’s credibility is by having a look at past customers’ experiences. This makes sure that you have a first-hand account of what you can expect from the company that you will be dealing with. There is a myriad of ways to obtain feedback from others. How?

6.1 Google Reviews

This is one of the most reliable and transparent form of online reviews since it is independent from the company, which means there is no bias, they are named and they come directly from the client. The company is unable to tamper with these reviews. Google Reviews also offers clients the opportunity to evaluate a company via a star-rating system. You can check out the number of stars given for each case or the global rating of the company based on an average of all the cases. 

Have a look at a couple of Google Reviews obtained by Medical Air Service: 

“Many thanks for all the team for their kind support, high professionalism , continuous availability , we appreciate the serious job done to insure safety of travel along with medical expertise . Thank you to the crew, the medical team and all the flight dispatchers! Great job!”

“Medical air service was very very professional and assisted my family quickly , I am very grateful in how they moved to get us to where we needed to be , excellent service I would recommend for anyone in need”. 

6.2 Customer testimonials 

Customer testimonials are usually posted on the company’s website or its social media accounts. These help you build another level of trust and credibility and will also erase your apprehensions, if you have any, about the flight. 

Check out some customer testimonials from Medical Air Service’s clients: 

“Jamie and I on behalf of our entire family want to thank you for your help. You were very professional, yet compassionate in your communications with us. You were organized and concise and guided us as needed throughout this difficult process. You did all of this with empathy and kindness in our conversations and emails. We interviewed three other transport companies and the two of you made us feel the most comfortable in deciding that Medical Air Service was the best choice. The travel, once on the airplane went smoothly and the medical team was “incredible”.”

“I just want to say a very big thank you to all involved with this, The service was excellent and communication through the process was amazing.

This was a hard complex job with lots of moving parts on a remote island during a pandemic.

My 2 crew members had commented to me how professional your team was on the aircraft.

It was a pleasure working with you all, Amazing job well done!

I can’t thank you enough!”

“I can’t tell you how grateful we are that you were on call with us for 48 hours and so generously offering alternatives. I am especially grateful to you for having answered all of my questions and explaining everything so calmly and clearly.”

6.3 Success stories 

Success stories, detailed accounts of our missions, what exactly happens when you book one of our air ambulances? These would help eliminate some stress about booking an air ambulance flight, especially if it is your first time organizing such a trip. Such accounts will not only give you an insight on traveling on an air ambulance, but they will also provide reassurance. 

Medical Air Service has posted case studies about its flight mission. These success stories will certainly warm your heart and will clarify any doubt that you might have about the way we conduct our missions.

Important steps to ensure a swift life flight 

If you have chosen the right air ambulance company, you will not experience a lot of difficulties when preparing for the flight. This is because the firm will take the necessary steps to ensure that you do not have to go through a lot of complications, considering that you are already going through a distressing situation. Nonetheless, while preparing for the flight, there are some things that you must take into consideration. 

7.1 What are some of the documents that you need? 

When preparing for your flight, Medical Air Service usually requires certain documentation, which if made readily available will fasten the process of arranging the flight. Nonetheless, the documents needed vary depending on your situation or according to where you need to go. 

Passports and visas: If these are usually required during your regular travel plans, then they will be needed for your ambulance flight as well. For instance, traveling across the European continent does not require an additional visa. 

Medical documentation: For critical medical conditions or illnesses, Medical Air Service would require medical documentation to determine whether the patient is in a stable condition to fly. While some patients are already provided with a fit-to-fly assessment by their doctor, Medical Air Service can also treat your request even if you do not have one. We can already start arranging your flight and our doctors can conduct an examination to determine whether you can travel without deteriorating your health. 

documents

Additionally, for pathologies that are not life-threatening, such as a leg injury, but which incapacitate you from flying commercially, a medical certificate is not required, as long as you are in a stable condition. 

7.2 Do you need PCR tests?

Are PCR tests required before an air ambulance flight? Depending on government regulations and the country that you are going, Medical Air Service requires the patient to conduct a PCR test before the flight, ensuring that you are not Covid-19 positive and that there will not be complications when you land. Nonetheless, we will still be able to conduct the flight if you have tested positive. The method of transportation will differ and we might have to make use of special isolation units to prevent the spread of the virus. 

7.3 We liaise with hospitals in the destination country 

As a general case, you will have already contacted a hospital in the destination country to confirm your admission to the facility after landing there. Nonetheless, it is important to maintain constant communication between both parties, coordinating departure and arrival dates and ensuring that there are no delays and other related issues after landing. 

Medical Air Service takes care of this by establishing constant communication with all the parties involved. It will liaise with the institutions in both countries and provide regular updates with regard to the scheduled departure and arrival date. Thanks to this, you do not have to go through the constant hassles of calling everyone back and forth, relieving some of the mental strain that you might be experiencing. 

Contact us for a swift life flight

If you want to organize an air ambulance mission, but do not know how to proceed for a smooth trip, get in touch with us. Our aviation experts are available every day on a 24-hour basis to assist you. They will listen to your needs, recommend the best solution and work out a free quotation for your situation. Reach them by: