Facts About Medical Stretchers on MedFlight911 Air Ambulance Flights
An air ambulance is a unique environment, with limited space and special conditions (such as the possibility of changes in air pressure while in flight) that affect the way we care for patients. Those are all factors that come into play when MedFlight911 is choosing the equipment that our medical team will use to while transporting a patient, including when we're selecting the stretchers that will carry our patients.
If you're like most people, you may simply assume that medical stretchers are all the same – a basic device that is used to transport a sick or injured person from one place to another. But that's not really the case. Simple stretchers (such as those used in disaster situations) may involve nothing more than a few bars and a piece of cloth. But the stretchers we use on our air ambulance flights are actually fairly complicated pieces of equipment, with a variety of components designed to promote the patient's health and safety.
There are 3 different functions of a stretcher: 1) to provide the patient comfort; 2) to give the air medical crew the ability to lay a patient in a supine position in the aircraft; and 3) to keep the patient safe while transitioning the patient from the ambulance to the aircraft, while in flight, and while transitioning the patient from the aircraft into the ambulance.
Part of the reason that our stretchers are so complex is because in the U.S., medical stretchers for airplanes need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). For example, the stretcher must have straps that can be used to secure the patient if necessary while in flight, as well as a way to secure the stretcher itself during flight. But aside from FAA regulations, we use stretchers specifically designed for use on an aircraft because it makes it easier to smoothly transport the patient to and from the aircraft, and to keep them safe while in transit.
At MedFlight911 air ambulance, we use Lifeport™ or Spectrum™ stretchers – depending on the type of aircraft and loading angles of that particular aircraft. Both types of stretchers house all advanced life support (ALS) components that are needed to care for critical patients on lengthy flights, including:
- 3500-liter oxygen system
- Compressed air pump
- Vacuum pump, supplied by suction pumps, maintaining adequate suction for varied functions
- Pneumatically controlled backrest that adjusts from 0-60°
- Two-inch thick mattress
- Patient safety restraint system
- Electrical: multiple 115 vac/60hz outlets powered by dual 1000 watt AC inverters
Shockingly, not every air ambulance provider uses FAA-approved medical stretchers. It may seem like a silly question, but if you're interviewing air ambulance companies, be sure to ask about what kind of stretchers they use. We have heard of some operators who have placed patients on a mattress on the floor of an airplane, which clearly isn't a safe way to travel. At MedFlight911, we utilize only the highest-quality equipment so that we can offer our patients the best possible care.
To find out more about MedFlight911's air ambulance services give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation air ambulance quote here.