Now That’s Commitment: Murphy’s Law and the Commercial Medical Escort Story
We’ve all experienced Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will). One of our best medical transport paramedics, Jim, had a day like that a few months ago. It seemed like the universe was conspiring against him. Yet through it all, Jim kept his steady focus on doing what was right for his patient – through it all. Here’s his story.
The day started with an early flight from Jim’s home base in Florida to Omaha, Nebraska. There, the 15-year paramedic and longtime commercial medical escort was set to meet our patient, the patient’s wife, and their daughter and escort them on a commercial flight to Bulgaria.
Suddenly, there was panic on the jet way. A passenger in line in front of Jim had gone into cardiac arrest. Jim, of course, jumped in to help. He started CPR and called for the medical equipment off of the airplane. Then he helped bring the passenger to the ambulance. By the time Jim got back to the gate, the airline had pulled his bags off the plane and taken off for Omaha.
No Medical Fit-to-Fly Information Form No Go
Jim ended up getting another (albeit incredibly circuitous) flight to Omaha, making it in time to meet the patient for the flight to Bulgaria. But while Jim and his personal baggage were in Omaha, the oxygen concentrator he had checked onto the plane in Florida was not. The airline hadn’t taken it off that original plane, sending it instead on to some other destination.
We tried to find an oxygen concentrator within any kind of driving distance of Omaha, but there was none to be found. Fortunately, not having the oxygen concentrator was an issue that Jim could fairly easily resolve – he could use the airline’s on-board oxygen if the patient needed it.
The problem that could have derailed the transport (indeed, it nearly did) was that the information on the medical fit-to-fly information form (MEDIF) absolutely has to match the patient. If the MEDIF says the patient is travelling with an oxygen concentrator, the airline isn’t going to let the patient on board without that oxygen concentrator.
Just redo the paperwork? Easier said than done. Typically the process of completing the MEDIF and getting all of the proper signatures then submitting it to and getting it approved by the airline takes about two days. Jim and his patient had two hours. Jim and I worked together faxing back and forth, to and fro, for every minute of those two hours. Literally minutes before closing the airplane doors, the airline approved the new MEDIF and let Jim and his patient on board.
A rickshaw? Really? Not for this commercial medical escort
When we arranged the commercial medical escort, the patient’s family told us they would take care of the patient after he arrived at the airport in Bulgaria – they would be responsible for getting him to the proper care facility. So Jim’s plan was to stay at the airport until his return flight home. That was his plan, anyway, until he saw the rickshaw (literally) that arrived at the airport to pick up his patient.
Forever dedicated to the patient, Jim changed his plans. He hired an ambulance to bring the patient to the receiving hospital. At that point, he could have put the patient in the ambulance and bid them good luck, but he was concerned about the plans that had been set by the family and wanted to ensure the patient made it to an appropriate care facility.
Good thing. The doctor at the receiving facility that had agreed to take the patient refused, saying that the patient was too sick. At the second care facility, no one was there to accept the patient. The third facility was not open at all. Six hours, one en-route breathing treatment, and four facilities later Jim finally found an emergency room that would take the patient into appropriate care.
The morals of the story are these: We’ve all had experiences where it seems like all of our best laid plans go awry. The same happens in medical transportation. But even on those days, MedFlight911 still takes care of the patient, getting him where he needs to go. Because we’re experienced medical transport professionals with a network of resources, we’re able to overcome obstacles. And more than anything, we’re committed to our patients, every step of the way – and beyond. Clearly.