Should you call an air ambulance specialist for someone stuck abroad?

Illnesses, accidents, or border restrictions triggered by the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic are just some of the reasons why you might seek the services of an international air ambulance specialist. Want to position your status more clearly? Take a look at Medical Air Service’s comprehensive list of the emergency situations which necessitate medical repatriation. But first, a word about medical flights!

What Are Medical Flights and Air Ambulances?

In the event of an accident, illness, or infectious disease contracted in a foreign country, the first aid provided or the quality of treatment there may be subpar. Travelling urgently to a nearby country or to your home country to receive the best medical care is then preferable, if not advised. Using its extensive network of private planes and helicopters, Medical Air Service can arrange for a safe and tailored medical flight. But what exactly are medical flights and air ambulances?

medical flight

 Medical Flights

They involve the transportation of a sick or injured person to a hospital or another medical facility. There exist two particular situations where aeromedical transportation may be needed, namely for:

  •     Transferring a patient from the scene of the accident to the nearest care facility. This is known as medical evacuation or MedEvac;

Good to know:  While not an emergency service, Medical Air Service offers evacuation services to transport patients from a local hospital, where primary treatment has been received, or their home, to another medical facility (in the same country or abroad) for better care.

  •    Patient transportation from a foreign country to their home country (e.g. for the continuation of medical treatments, to receive better medical care, or to receive an organ transplant, etc.). This is referred to as medical repatriation.

There are also various methods for carrying out medical transportation by flight, most notably via:

  1.   Private helicopter, especially when the transport must be completed quickly, and the location from which the victim is to be repatriated is remote;
  2.     Private airplane, when the repatriation must be done over a long distance, and in a short amount of time.

  3.     Commercial flights, when the patient's medical condition allows it, and both his doctor and the airline, which has the final say, see nothing wrong with it. 

Good to know: Medical Air Service’s planes and helicopters are available for medical transport for a wide range of international clients.

Air Ambulances

A medical aircraft (also known as an air ambulance or an aeromedical ambulance) is a passenger plane used to transport patients for medical purposes. Its cabin has been custom-built and outfitted to provide specific medical and intensive care.

An air ambulance is often the safest way to transfer a patient from one location to another. It offers prompt transportation, a high level of comfort, and continuous medical care on board. Chartering a medical plane also allows you to determine your flight schedule and route flexibility. The helicopters of Medical Air Service, in particular, can land at small airports, and difficult-to-reach areas.

A turboprop aircraft, such as our Beechcraft King Air 200, can be used as an air ambulance. It is ideal for regional medical transport. Medical evacuations can also be arranged using an aeromedical private jet, such as the Bombardier Challenger 604. These engines are capable of transporting patients over very long distances.

Visit our website to learn more about our fixed-wing aircraft.

To ensure a safe transfer, medical aircraft, including ours, can be outfitted with the following medical equipment:

-        A patient warming system (PWS);

-        An external pacemaker or a biphasic defibrillator;

-        An intensive care stretcher for bed-ridden patients;

-        An air pressurisation system suited to the patient's injuries;

-        A resuscitation ventilator to prevent hypoxia and hypercarbia;

-  A medical oxygen generator to stabilise low blood oxygen levels;

-    A suction machine or aspirator for removing obstructions (blood, saliva, mucus);

-    A communication system that connects the medical team in flight to a medical team on the ground at all times;

-    A multi-parameter monitoring system (EGC, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, capnography, temperature measurement).

icu equipment

Stuck Abroad: Why you may need an air ambulance specialist?

Nobody is immune to unforeseen events when traveling abroad, whether for pleasure or for business. Along the same line, a patient may be repatriated for personal reasons. As noted above, accidents, injuries, or illnesses, by definition, justify the use of an air ambulance specialist for the patient's transfer and hospitalisation in a nearby or his home country.

Illnesses and Accidents

Strokes, cardiac arrests, and other potentially life-threatening medical conditions are examples of serious health issues that warrant medical repatriation. The same can be said for contagious infections such as Covid-19, which necessitate the use of special isolation measures or sophisticated respiratory equipment in order to stabilise the patient's condition. Some accidents (limb and skull fractures, severe burns, and so on) necessitate special medical attention as well, and patients frequently prefer to receive proper care and rehabilitation sessions in their home country, where the health care system and hygiene standards are better. If the emergency care they require is not available at their vacation destination, or the cost of it is beyond their means, they can be flown back to their home country or to the nearest health facility by an air ambulance.

When regular flights are not an option

There are times when flying on a commercial plane is simply out of the question. As previously stated, this could be due to the patient's critical medical condition, which requires minute-to-minute care with ICU facilities or life support with oxygen and a ventilator. They could also be in a stable condition, but doctors believe that flying on a regular plane would worsen their medical condition. This can be the case for cancer treatments, risks of miscarriages or premature labour. Aside from the lack of medical equipment and trained personnel on board these planes, certain highly infectious diseases, such as Covid-19, will automatically disqualify you for medical repatriation by scheduled flights.

air ambulance

Private air ambulances are exempt from the same regulations that apply to commercial airliners and other modes of transportation. In this regard, Medical Air Service’sambulance planes are outfitted with intensive care facilities, state-of-the-art medical equipment, and specific medications. A team of highly trained doctors can treat and operate on patients in flight if necessary. Furthermore, as the entire flight is dedicated to a single patient, we can also customise our cabins to accommodate any specialised equipment he may require. This includes treatment for COVID-positive patients who must travel in complete isolation, as well as treatment for children who must travel with specialised doctors in a pediatric incubator.

Caution: The sick and injured, and their relatives are not the only ones concerned by medical repatriation. Medical repatriation can be arranged by Medical Air Service to pick you up from a country subject to border restrictions, to give you just one example. 

The country’s situation

It refers to:

  • A natural disaster (Indonesia 2019);
  • A pandemic (the most obvious example is Covid-19, which has affected nearly the entire world).

In such cases, medical repatriation is possible, but only if the country in which you are stuck in opens its skies to international flights.

Got more questions?

Please see our FAQs section to find out how quickly we can arrange your repatriation.

Contact Medical Air Service for a free quote

Do you want to know whether repatriation by an air ambulance specialist is the right option for your medical situation? Feel free to contact our team to request a free, no-obligation quote:

Back to overview