One of the most common questions we receive at MedFlight911 is how often do we land our helicopter on the roof on a hospital? Often when people think of an air ambulance, they visualize a helicopter swooping down at a major accident. And, while emergency medical personnel may call for a helicopter rather than using a ground ambulance if the patient has a life-threatening injury and needs to get to a trauma center very quickly; ground ambulance and helicopter air ambulances aren't the only form of medical transport. And air ambulances aren't just used to save car crash victims.
Many times, air ambulances are used for patients in non-emergent, or nonemergency, situations. Patients in non-emergent situations don't need to be transported immediately, yet the patient still needs the care of an air ambulance. Perhaps the patient needs hospice treatment closer to home, or the patient has a traumatic brain injury and needs to move to a different hospital for treatment. Sometimes, the patient is elderly and simply wants to be closer to relatives. Other times, the patient fell ill while travelling abroad and needs to get back to the U.S. for treatment. These are examples of the kinds of patients whose situations we would classify as non-emergent. In those situations, a fixed-wing aircraft (airplane) is often used, rather than the rotor-wing aircraft (helicopter) people commonly associate with the term "air ambulance."
So, why do we use a fixed-wing aircraft instead of a helicopter for air medical transport? If a patient needs to travel a long distance, a fixed-wing air ambulance is a better choice, since the plane can travel for a longer distance without needing to refuel. Fixed-wing aircraft can also carry more equipment, passengers, and luggage than helicopter air ambulances making the transport more comfortable for everyone involved.
We understand that it can be confusing to know which is the right form of medical transport for you or your loved one. We would to evaluate your loved one's needs and help you understand your options.
To find out more about MedFlight911's worldwide air ambulance services give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation air medical transport quote here.
As a worldwide air ambulance and medical transport company we take great pride in providing top-notch medical services to all of our patients. MedFlight911 sees a wide variety of patients. Some have insurance, some do not, some are flying internationally, some just a state away. Not only do we provide services for families and insurance companies, we also serve government employees. When working with government agencies there is a higher level of oversight, red tape, and paperwork than with insurance agencies. However, because we provide such meticulous care to our patients, we don't have to change anything we do to satisfy the government agencies; we have always gone above and beyond to meet your needs!
MedFlight911 has provided both commercial medical escorts and air ambulance care to government employees, helping them transfer from their homes to their "distance medical center" where they can receive necessary treatments. Some of these employees have been injured overseas and brought (by the government) back to the states for medical care.
For example, we had a patient who was severely injured in the Middle East. The patient received care overseas and once stable, was transported back to the U.S. MedFlight911 was contacted to transport the patient from their home to a medical center for a crucial surgery. Once the surgery was completed and the patient was safe to travel, MedFligth911 transported the patient back home. It's always an honor to care for a government employee and something we don't take lightly.
The government is one of the largest employers in the U.S. employing over 21.9 million people in 2012. In additional to working with families, individuals, and insurance companies, being able to provide excellent, competent medical care for government employees is very important to us and something we are very proud of. No matter who you are, what you do, or what medical services you need, it is our goal to provide every patient with the best medical transport services.
If you are a government employee or agency and need medical transport, give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation air medical transport quote here.
Strict rules from the U.S. government can make travel for international air ambulance passengers even more complicated, as MedFlight911 learned during a recent medical transport. In the past, passengers on air ambulance flights from another country that stopped in the United States didn't need any special travel documentation, provided they did not leave the aircraft. Now, however, all travelers to the U.S. are required to obtain a visa or other appropriate travel authorization prior to departure, even those from "visa waiver" countries, and even if they are only stopping in the U.S. and not disembarking.
Passengers from countries that are part of the visa waiver program must visit the Electronic System for Travel Authorization to apply for authorization and pay the necessary fee. Those from all other countries will need to obtain a valid visa before travel.
So, what does this mean for non-U.S.-citizens who might have long-distance medical transport scheduled that will pass through the United States, even if that's not their final destination? It means that you'll need to plan ahead and make sure that you're authorized to enter the country before you leave.
Consider the advice offered by United Airlines on their website: "U.S. regulations always require travelers to comply with customs and immigration procedures at their first point of entry into the U.S. Travelers will need to have all required documents with them upon arrival — even if the U.S. is not their final destination. If travelers have more than one U.S. stopover, they will not need to clear customs again." In simple terms, any international passenger planning to land on U.S. soil for an reason will need a passport AND either a valid VISA or ESTA waiver.
These rules can have a big impact on MedFlight911's flight operations when moving international air ambulance customers. For example, we recently had a passenger from Chile who needed to get to another country, with a stop in the United States along the way. In the past, when we stopped in the U.S., and the passenger didn't leave the aircraft, and they were referred to as "in transit" and they didn't need a visa or other travel authorization. That's wasn't the case with this trip. The passenger didn't have the right clearance and it took some quick work on the part of MedFlight911 to get the problem sort out. Bottom line: If you plan to land in the U.S. with a non-citizen passenger who doesn't have the proper travel documents in hand, it can be a big headache for everyone involved. If carrying passengers without valid documents, air carriers can be fined up to $10,000 and forced to return to their point of origin.
So, what can international travelers do to make sure that their trip to—or through—the U.S. goes smoothly? If you are from a visa waiver program country and know that you'll be traveling, you need to complete the ESTA application in advance—at least 72 hours prior to travel. The application is only available online, and each application costs $14. A passenger wishing to receive medical care in the U.S., in addition to have a receiving facility and physician lined up, must complete an application online at least 72 hour in advance. Otherwise, they may be effected by I93 fee of $585.
These stricter travel requirements and screening processes are a way for the government to keep a closer eye on who is entering the U.S. and make sure our borders are secure. But they can cause real problems for people with medical emergencies who need an international air ambulance on a short notice, or even those who simply aren't aware of the requirements and show up at the airport for their trip, only to be denied boarding.
As with any trip, especially international travel, MedFlight911 recommends planning ahead and making sure that you understand the laws of every country you'll be visiting—even if you'll only be seeing it from the window of an airplane.
Learn more about ESTA and how if could affect your travel plans: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1072/kw/esta
Are you interested in learning more about MedFlight911's worldwide air ambulance services? Give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation air medical transport quote here.
As healthcare costs rise exponentially, air ambulance can be one part of the solution for controlling costs, by enabling patients to access specialized medical care consolidated regionally rather than locally. The rising cost of healthcare in the U.S. is in the news almost every day, it seems. And it’s true: healthcare costs in the U.S. have increased from about 5 percent of GDP in 1960 to about 16 percent today. At the rate we’re going, we’ll be spending 20 percent of our national income on healthcare by 2020.
In response, many medical insurance companies have increased premiums, decreased the percentage of healthcare costs they’ll cover, and eliminated some kinds of coverage altogether. In addition, many state governments, especially, have cut back on funding for state health programs and state health insurance coverage. All of those cutbacks combined have led to the decrease in medical services, even closure of medical facilities – especially in rural areas, and especially of specialized medical services.
Yet people in rural areas still need access to specialized medical services. Imagine, for example, a young person in rural Ohio gets a concussion during a football game. The local doctor is concerned about traumatic brain injury (TBI) but doesn’t have the specialized training or equipment to properly diagnose or treat it. Or imagine an elderly woman in a small town in New York who falls and breaks her hip. The local hospital has no facilities to do hip replacement surgery, and the woman’s family all live in Florida.
In any of these examples – and millions others like them – the role of an air ambulance is crucial. An air ambulance can transport those patients to the medical facilities where they can get the care they need.
A recent public policy paper by the MedEvac Foundation International explained it well: “Current financial pressures on the health care system will only increase. The mismatch between demand and resource availability is becoming more acute. These pressures will continue to erode the availability of hospital based delivery of specialty care and life-saving technologies, particularly in rural areas. The need for increased access to ever scarcer specialty care resources, and the increased need to make such care mobile will increase the need for air medical services.”
Something needs to be done to contain healthcare costs that are spiraling out of control. Consolidating specialized medical services into regional centers makes a lot of sense. Because while an air ambulance may be expensive, it’s a whole lot more cost effective than staffing a traumatic brain injury rehabilitation center, for example, in every small city across the country. In essence, air ambulances allow specialized medical centers to serve much wider regions, which is far more cost effective.
In last week’s post, “Pan Am Episode 8: Would That Ever Really Happen?” I promised that I would blog this week on when bad weather forces an airplane to divert, or limits landing options when there’s a medical emergency on board. Well, it’s just about wintertime, and you know what that means (for everyone outside of Arizona, that is): airport delays.
Earlier this month I came across the story of a JetBlue flight on which passengers were stranded on the tarmac for more than seven hours. One passenger, a man who is paralyzed from the waist down, was held on the airplane for nearly nine hours. (Read about the story here and here.)
There’s good reason for the Passenger Bill of Rights, which is a set of passenger protections issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2009 that “prohibit U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours, with exceptions for safety, security and air traffic control related-reasons.”
One good reason is that after many hours sitting on the tarmac, food and water often runs out, and lavatories clog up. Tempers often flare. On the recent JetBlue flight, the pilot pleaded for police officers to board the plane to calm passenger tensions.
But there’s also a really critical safety issue here, too. I’ve blogged before about deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a clot that forms in the legs, breaks off, moves through the bloodstream, and ends up blocking blood flow to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). It’s most often caused by periods of extended inactivity (like sitting on a plane for nine hours).
DVT is a danger for anyone, though certain people are more at risk than others: those who have had a DVT before; people who have certain heart diseases, cancer, or a blood clotting disorder; pregnant women; smokers; people who are obese; women on birth control; and older patients. People who have recently had major surgery or trauma are also at a higher risk for DVT, as are paraplegics like the JetBlue passenger I mentioned (see Traveler’s Deep Vein Thrombosis: How to Stay Safe).
The Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection division is investigating the delay on the JetBlue flight. If the government determines any airline violated the tarmac delay rule, that carrier could be fined as much as $27,500 per passenger. Hopefully that would be enough of a sting to keep the airline from letting something like this happen again.
But if you find yourself sitting on the tarmac for nine hours -- or on a transatlantic flight that can easily exceed that length -- it’s important to get up and move around. For passengers who are immobile, leg massage, stretches, and ankle rotations can help keep the blood flowing. Staying hydrated is also important -- though that’s hard to do, of course, when trapped in an airplane with no functioning lavatories.
I’ve written lots about the importance of being prepared. And that holds here, too. Passengers with medical conditions need to prepare far in advance of the flight to ensure that they can bring their medical supplies on board. Though you hope it never happens, once you board that plane, you really are at the mercy of the pilot and crew. Passenger Bill of Rights or no, you never know when a three-hour flight will turn into nine.