Fixed Wing Air Ambulances : The Pros and Cons

What are air ambulances?

Air ambulances are aircrafts specially designed and fitted with medical equipment to facilitate the transfer of sick and injured individuals from one hospital to another over medium to long distances.

Air ambulances provide a host of benefits to patients:

  • It allows patients to be transferred quickly from hospital to hospital regardless of their condition, as they have the same level of equipment as an intensive care ward
  • It facilitates the transfer of patients abroad to see specialists who may not have access to specialized treatment in their current location.
  • It gives the chance for patients to be treated at a hospital of their choice back home, in the event of injury or falling ill while away from their home while being closer to their family and friends.
  • It also reduces the transit time for crucial material needed to save a patient’s life, such as organs, blood samples, plasma and frozen section samples from biopsies.

Ambulance flights for patients can be placed into two categories: medical evacuation and medical repatriation.

Medical Evacuation

Medical Evacuation or medevac, is the organized procedure of transporting a casualty from the site of the incident to a hospital, or transferring a patient from one medical facility to the next. In cases of medical evacuation, the patients opt to leave their current location or home country to have access to better (sometimes world-class) medical care and/or be closer to their relatives who have moved to another country.

Medical Repatriation

Medical repatriation is the organized procedure of transporting a patient back to their home country. Patients opt for medical repatriation for a variety of reasons, which include access to better medical care, to be closer to their friends or family while receiving treatment, or to avoid any potential language barriers with the medical staff in their current location.

In both cases, fixed wing air ambulances are a common type of air ambulance used to transport the patients.

What are fixed wing air ambulances?

Fixed wing air ambulances are air ambulances powered by piston, turboprop or jet engines. Unlike ambulance helicopters, they require designated airports and airstrips to take off and land at. Fixed wing air ambulances come specially equipped in the same level as an intensive care ward, and can be equipped to accommodate the patient’s needs. They also come with experienced doctors and medical personnel on board, hence the ability to transfer most intensive care patients with ease.

Fixed wing ambulances are the best choice in cases that require urgent transfer of patients, or when the distance be covered is long.

Fixed wing air ambulances are used in the following cases:

  • Medical Repatriation

Medical emergencies are unpredictable, and can happen anywhere. And when they do happen, often times patients prefer to be airlifted back to their home country for treatment either because the local hospital might not be properly equipped to handle the emergency, or out of preference due to familiarity with the medical system and procedures in their home country.

  • Domestic ambulance flights

Patient transfers within a country occur when a patient requires specialized treatment from a particular medical facility, or prefer to be receive medical care closer to their family and friends.

  • Ambulance flights abroad

Fixed wing air ambulances are used when patients need to travel from one country to another.

  • Executive air ambulance

Discerning clients and high net worth individuals from across the globe desire to receive medical attention at the best hospitals, hence they will opt to use an executive air ambulance for the transfer to those hospitals.

  • Medical Tourism

Often times, the best medical care may not be readily available within your country. Thus, patients choose to travel abroad to seek out the very best medical care from the world’s leading experts to help with their treatment.

  • Pediatric incubator transport

Transporting prematurely or new-born babies requires specialized knowledge and efficiency. Air ambulances facilitate this, through specialized medical processions onboard the flight, as well as equipping mobile incubators on board that are designed to enable the baby to be transferred without being moved out of the incubator.

  • Sea Level flights

Certain illnesses or medical conditions may require patients to be transported by air at sea level where the air pressure in the cabin is similar to the air pressure on ground in order to prevent their condition from worsening. In such cases, fixed wing air ambulances can facilitate such transfers.

  • Organ Transport

Organ transportation is a process that is very time sensitive, as the viability of the organ as well as the life of the patient is all dependent on the speed and efficiency at which the organs reach the hospital. Fixed wing air ambulances, in this case, are the best mode of transport, as they can cover longer distances to can reach the patient in the shortest time possible.

  • Coffin and Funeral Transport

When a patient seeking medical care abroad dies, the family may want to transport the body back home to be laid to rest. Fixed wing air ambulances facilitate this transfer.

 When are fixed-wing air ambulances not appropriate?

  • When the scene of incident where the patient is located is inaccessible
  • When the journey to the hospital is short (often in this case we can assist you with one of our Air Ambulance Helicopters)
  • When the patient is in stable condition to travel via alternative means (For instance by travelling through a Scheduled Flight)provided they have been approved to by a qualified medical doctor

What are the alternatives for fixed-wing air ambulances?

For long distance transportation, scheduled commercial flights are a cheaper alternative to fixed wing air ambulances. It is recommended for patients who are in stable condition, and do not need intensive care. Patients may either fly in business class, or on a stretcher while accompanied by a paramedic. In cases where a stretcher is deemed necessary, it will be specially installed in the cabin for the purpose of transporting the patient in question. It is important to note that stretchers are only installed for direct long - distance commercial flights and not short distance flights or connecting flights, as they would take up too much time.

For shorter distances, or from one hospital to another, ground ambulances are the preferred choice. They come readily fitted with medical equipment that can be tailored to the patient’s needs, as well as accompanying medical personnel on board to facilitate the transfer of the patient. However, ground ambulances are subject to a lot of unforeseen risk factors, such as traffic delays and road accidents, which may put the condition of the patient at risk.

Why choose Medical Air Service?

Medical Air Service understands all air ambulance needs of our patients.  We are a global air ambulance company providing fixed wing air ambulances in any country around the world, with very short lead times. We have over 40 years of medical aviation experience, and our air ambulances come equipped with the latest medical equipment, together with medical professionals with decades of experience and specialized knowledge to cater for a wide range of medical emergencies.

Our team is available 24/7 for a free, no-obligation consultation and is happy to advise you on taking an air ambulance from wherever you are around the world and give you a comprehensive list of services we offer plus a non-binding quote.

Contact us today for all your fixed-wing air ambulance inquiries as well as to get a quote.

Our team members are available 24/7 to provide advice. We can arrange quick medical flights worldwide. Please contact us:

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