What's an Empty Leg? Advanced Air Ambulance Terminology 101
Every industry has its jargon, and the world of long-distance medical transport is no exception. If you stepped into the MedFlight911 offices, you might hear us throwing around terms like “empty leg,” “FBO” or “duty time.” These terms are familiar to those of us who have worked in the advanced air ambulance industry for years, but sometimes we forget that patients and their families may not be as familiar with our lingo. To help you out, we've put together this brief glossary of a few of the terms you may not know.
Empty leg. Most air ambulance flights are one way, which means that after a patient is dropped off at his or her destination, the crew usually needs to fly the empty plane back to its originating airport. The cost of this “empty leg” is built into the overall cost of the trip. However, if we can find another patient who needs a transport on what would otherwise be an empty flight, we can reduce costs for both patients.
Duty time. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rules about how long a pilot can fly before he or she needs to rest. Pilot duty time and mandated rest periods are important factor that we need to consider when we plan long-distance medical transports, particularly international trips that may involve many hours of flight time.
Fixed wing vs. Rotor wing. Air ambulances fall into two broad categories: fixed wing (or airplanes) and rotor wing (or helicopters). Rotor-wing air ambulances are typically used for emergency transports over relatively short distances. Fixed-wing air ambulances are used for longer transports. At MedFlight911, all our advanced air ambulance transports are done via fixed-wing aircraft.
Basic life support (BLS), advanced life support (ALS) and critical care transport (CCT). These acronyms designate the different levels of care we provide in our air ambulances. BLS involves care such as oxygen delivery, basic airway management, monitoring vital signs, and CPR. ALS involves advanced airway management, cardiac monitoring, defibrillation, IV administration, and more. CCT is for patients who need the most complex monitoring and care (for example, they may be on a ventilator or need complicated drugs).
Bedside-to-bedside. Bedside-to-bedside service is our approach to offering coordinated care to the patients we serve. Essentially, it means that for most of our transports, a member of our medical team is with the patient from the moment they leave their current location to the moment they arrive at their destination. This approach to medical transport allows our team to communicate with the patient's doctors both at the departing facility and the receiving facility to ensure the patient gets the care he or she needs.
FBO. An FBO, or fixed-base of operations, is a location at an airport (whether it's a small airfield or large commercial facility) that provides refueling, hanger space, parking, maintenance and other services for aircraft. MedFlight911 air ambulance flights depart from an FBO, not a regular commercial facility.
Air ambulance terms can be a bit confusing at times. If you're a patient or family member and there's something you don't understand, just let us know. We're always happy to offer an explanation!
To find out more about MedFlight911's advanced air ambulance services give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation medflight air ambulance quote here.