January 29, 2013

Taking Off - The Air Ambulance Journey Begins

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Much like a John Woo film, we at Angel MedFlight see our air ambulance medical crew and pilots walking toward our jets in slow motion on a large, open tarmac, the wind gripping their uniforms, white doves flying past... alright, maybe that last part was a little too dramatic, but you get the idea. Our crew are heroes in our eyes and in the eyes of our patients. They are ready to take off at a moment's notice to help people in need.

The medical gear is stocked, the Learjet is fueled, and the crew is suited-up. As the supplies are strategically placed and patient preparations are being made, the pilots are performing their final check list before takeoff. Aviation West Charters and Angel MedFlight Chief Pilot, Kindle Tannery, explains a few of the typical pre-flight checks. Let's take a look at that process.

Prior to takeoff, Tannery explains that the pilots put in the determined speeds using the Flight Management System. As the set speed thresholds are met, the pilots call out to each other every occurrence as they happen on the display.

"There are three main checks to perform during a takeoff: Airspeed Alive, cross check, and V1," Tannery explains. These verifications are standard on all Angel MedFlight air ambulance performance check procedures. These checks will take place while on the move.

"Airspeed Alive cross checks the Captains flight instruments with the Co-pilots instruments. Aircraft takeoff airspeeds are determined based on the altitude, temperature and weight of the aircraft," Tannery continues. "These variables play a vital role in determining the speed that will be necessary to meet the required threshold - or 'no turning back now' point. This process also verifies that all instruments are working properly. We are generally at about 40 knots when the 'airspeed alive' call is made."

"A 'cross check' is then performed between the pilot and the co-pilot to verify gauges are reading the same. Essentially, both pilot and co-pilot airspeed indicators need to be at 90 knots at this point in the takeoff. This process ensures accuracy between panels. If there were any inconsistencies, we would abort he takeoff."

"V1 is essentially the 'decision speed' or the accelerate / stop distance. This is the last opportunity to make the decision to continue or abort, if necessary. When you cross that speed threshold, there is no stopping the takeoff process. The threshold speed is determined by the plane's weight and the outside temperature. If the weight and temperature are higher, the speed threshold is more. Lower weight and lower temperature means a lower speed threshold."

"The Learjet 60 is very fast. It's the Corvette of all aircraft," says Tannery. "The engines create 9200lbs of thrust combined at takeoff, so performance checks need to be made quickly and accurately. Good training is required and safety is always our number one goal as Angel MedFlight air ambulance pilots."

January 24, 2013

An All Night Affair - The Parade of Planes

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Angel MedFlight's Learjet 35 in the Parade of Planes

On January 10th, at 1AM, Angel MedFlight entered their Learjet 35 into the Parade of Planes making their way to the Barrett-Jackson Auto Show from the Scottsdale Municipal Airport . The temperature, a chilly 40 degrees with a slight wind was present. Angel MedFlight's technicians, media, and public relations crews were on hand to guide the plane down one of the busiest streets in Scottsdale - Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.

Preparations to get the plane to the starting point of Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. were strategically planned and executed with precision. The danger of pulling a jet with a 39 foot wingspan for a stretch of 2 miles are plentiful: cars, signs, lampposts, vegetation etc. Even with escort provided by the Scottsdale Police Department, the unknown can happen - and did. One renegade driver with a lack of patience found themselves in a bit of trouble with the law when cutting through the Parade.

Albert Miller, Videographer for Angel MedFlight, was filming nearly the entire 2 mile stretch.

"Overall, the transition was pretty smooth. With the exception of some drivers, most of the obstacles have been signs and shrubbery," said Miller. "It was a great team effort, everyone was aware of their surroundings, and everyone worked together to get the Learjet safely down Frank Lloyd Wright and into Westworld."

While the Parade of Planes is not a publicized event, it is an annual occurrence for Barrett-Jackson sponsors who have aircraft that need to get to the event location - Westworld in Scottsdale, AZ. In years past, the parade generally included, single-engine or multi-engine prop planes, but that night, Angel MedFlight's Learjet 35 made an appearance one won't soon forget. This is the largest airplane to ever be displayed at Barrett-Jackson. Additionally, it was, by far, the largest aircraft in the Parade and required the most supervision and caution.

Director of Operations, Brandon Kearns at Aviation West Charters (dba Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance) was in attendance to ensure the safe transfer as well. Moving foliage and ensuring sign clearance as the jet slowly rolled required a keen eye and fast reflexes.

"The local law enforcement did a fantastic job of blocking off the roads for us. We had a great group of people from Angel MedFlight as well as some officials from Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Airport." Kearns was asked if he had ever been involved in a transfer of this kind. He replied, "I have been in aviation for 16 years... this would have to be the first time."

Angel MedFlight is excited to feature their latest member of the medically-configured jet lineup - the Learjet 35.

More Than an Emergency Air Ambulance

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

The Angel MedFLight Learjet 60, more than an air ambulance

When one thinks of "air ambulance", a typical visualization is of a helicopter responding to an emergency situation. While that visual is accurate, the needs for air ambulance go far beyond an emergency response generated from a 911 call. Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance has services that meet the needs of other types of medically required transportation.

Our flight crew members can meet the needs of a patient, no matter the severity of injury or illness. Some patients require consistent medical attention, while some may not be in a critical health situation, but yet are unable to travel on a commercial aircraft. From emergencies to final wishes, our air ambulance crew is ready to make your travel a memorable experience.

Medical Emergencies

Angel MedFlight's air ambulances provide emergency transportation for critical care patients both nationally and internationally.

Repatriation Services

For those traveling out of the US, Angel MedFlight offers medical ambulatory recovery from anywhere in the world. Injury or illness can happen anywhere at any time. Once medically-fit for travel, our air ambulances can bring you home to your preferred physician or hospital for treatment.

Angel MedFlight is a partner of Travel Assurance Promise (TAP). TAP is intended for reserving medical transportation back to the destination of your choice in the event of a medical emergency. By taking becoming a member of TAP prior to your trip, coverage for repatriation or domestic recovery is guaranteed.

Final Wishes

If time is critical for reasons other than medical emergencies, Angel MedFlight is available for final destination travel as well. Our medical crew can ensure a comfortable flight, provide the proper medication to maintain stability in condition, and assist in the transfer to the destination of a patient's choosing.

Organ Transportation Services

If a donor is waiting and time is of the utmost importance, patients and Case Manager count on Angel MedFlight's Learjet 60's for immediate transport. Time plays a critical role in the possible degradation of removed organs. When long or short distance travel is required, hospitals count on our Learjet 60s - some of the fastest jets in the air ambulance industry.

Specialist Transfer

If a patient has a need for a specific specialist in the medical field such as a cardiac specialist, brain surgeon, or natal specialist, Angel MedFlight can be requested for medical transfer to the specific location and specialist anywhere in the world.

Personal Requisition

If insurance does not cover air ambulance travel, patients have requested our services for personal medical transport as well as to simply travel in comfort.

Innovative ICU in the Sky

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Angel MedFlight's Innovative ICU Air Ambulance

When you hear the word "ambulance," comfort and style probably are not the first adjectives that come to mind. However, following a medical transport with Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance, patients know that even though emergencies happen - it certainly doesn't mean you need to sacrifice first class transportation or VIP service.

Angel MedFlight features the LifePort Patient Loading Utility System (PLUS). The detached top portion of the stretcher is ideal for ground to aircraft transfers. This will ensure patients are comforted at all times of the transfer with plush, customized cushions and are securely fastened in the 5-point harness. Understanding a patient's journey in the aircraft might mean hours of flight time; comfort and safety are the flight crew's top priority.

Once aboard Angel MedFlight's medically-configured Learjet, the Lifeport stretcher is attached to the mounting base. The Lifeport base features a 1000-watt electrical inverter and a vacuum pump - this is certainly more than just a stretcher. Accompanied by a variety of top-of-the-line medical equipment, and expert medical staff, the Lifeport PLUS is a critical component of a transporting a patient in both comfort and safety.

Angel MedFlight is committed to patients on an individual level. The initial application of the Lifeport PLUS unit was useful, but our crew noticed a need for more. More patient comfort, more patient security, and simplifying the ambulance transfer process. In the case of a 14 year old patient, our team would soon create our most capable system to date.

With this young man in a full body cast from his chest to feet, Angel MedFlight knew that modifications were necessary to complete this tranfer. No other air ambulance, at that time, had the ability to properly transport a patient with a full body cast - let alone properly restrain the patient. Angel MedFlight staff began preparing to customize the stretcher and loading capabilities of the Lifeport PLUS unit. Not only did it need to be safe, but comfort was a factor in the 2,554 mile trip.

After the configurations were determined, the crew began the customization. Cutting, molding, and tailoring by hand, Angel MedFlight fabricators designed the ideal stretcher for both patients and flight crew members. They expanded the width from 16 inches to 29 inches for patient comfort and added a 5-point harness for safety. The flight was successful. He made it home from New Jersey to California.

Soon after the configuration, new air ambulance patients in need of the customized stretcher would have the chance to experience the craftsmanship. In future cases, the Lifeport PLUS stretcher on Angel MedFlight aircraft can be customized for most any patients need.

Air Ambulance Perspectives with Jennifer Vogel

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Angel MedFlight Director of Public Relations, Jennifer Vogel

In this edition of Air Ambulance Perspectives, we feature Jennifer Vogel. Jennifer is the Director of Public Relations at Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance. With more than 12 years of experience, Jennifer is excited to bring her TV and entrepreneurial background to the team.

AMF Contributor: What has been your most memorable experience at Angel MedFlight?

Jennifer Vogel: Everyday something new and exciting awaits me, but the most memorable day was definitely the day we got our team together and paraded our Learjet 35 down one of the busiest streets in Scottsdale - Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. It was one in the morning, freezing cold and we had to walk two miles making sure the plane and staff were safe. Once the Learjet 35 arrived at Barrett-Jackson we were ready to have some fun! Check out the video on our YouTube page.

The size of the jet required sign removals, pushing hedges back, and some sharp turns. Overall, it was a great success and we appreciated all of the Scottsdale police escorts that made this transfer possible.

AMF Contributor: What do you like most about working at Angel MedFlight?

Jennifer Vogel: The staff! I have learned so much just listening to my co-workers and seeing their ideas come to life. One example is the day we had our CEO Jeremy Freer featured on AZ Business Magazine for the CEO Series. Each person in the department played a role to create a really great product including a blog, a video and a photo shoot.

AMF Contributor: Do you have any personal goals to reach while at Angel MedFlight?

Jennifer Vogel: I want to make the Today Show for all of the positive work we have done at Angel MedFlight. The air ambulance company has donated so many flights to our military and to those in need, making life-changing differences, I think it is a story the whole world should hear.

We are happy to hear such positive comments from patients and their families. We really believe in what we do and want the entire world to know about our air ambulance service.

AMF Contributor: Is there a particular story that has impacted you, personally?

Jennifer Vogel: The story of how our CEO started Angel MedFlight inspires me every day. Not only did Jeremy Freer take action and build a successful company here in Scottsdale, AZ, he did it for all of the right reasons: making the patient the most important person. I think if every business used the model of human care, the world would be a better place.

Are You Covered? A Guide to Air Ambulance Insurance Coverage

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Does your insurance policy cover air ambulance service? Angel MedFlight helps you uncover the truth.

Do you know everything that your health insurance covers? Better yet, do you fully understand your coverage and know what would be covered in the case of an emergency? If you're thinking "no" or "I don't know," you are not alone. The terms of your plan coverage, or "legalese", on any contact or agreement can appear to be a foreign language. Angel MedFlight claims department and legal team are in the business of dealing with insurance companies to ensure we can get you covered for your flight.

Plain speak, or plain language laws, have recently been enacted to clear up the misunderstanding of legal terminology. This law will mandate that all terms of agreements, contractual information, or fine print, will be written on a consumer level. This law assists patients in the comprehension of their coverage, but does not guarantee the claims process will be any easier.

At Angel MedFlight, we take our claims process very seriously as it is a valuable service for our patients. When insurance companies find grounds to deny coverage for medical transportation, it is the claims department that intervenes to uncover denial details and present validity in your claim.

In some cases, insurance companies have attempted to deny necessary air ambulance transportation. Robert VanPelt is the Senior Claims Specialist and the Director of Safety and Asset Management at Angel MedFlight. VanPelt has been in the Claims department for nearly 2 years and has experienced a variety of scenarios and claim denial attempts by insurance companies.

"We transport people because they need our services - at times, traveling by air ambulance is the only option for people needing to get from one place to another," said VanPelt. "The services we provide are world-class and second to none." VanPelt adds, "If a patient's insurance coverage does not cover the cost of the air ambulance, we do not 'balance bill'. In other words, we will not go after a patient for the remainder of the balance. That is what makes Angel MedFlight different and that is why I am passionate about what I do."

The Angel MedFlight claims process:

  • Flight Coordinators will contact your insurance company to obtain your eligibility and benefits report. Based upon the information in that report, they can determine if a preauthorization is required and what services will be covered in what circumstances.

  • The flight is scheduled and completed.

  • Once the flight is complete and the records are approved from the flight, the information is sent to the claims department to build a claim file.

  • The claims department will send all records of the claim to the insurance company to assist in expediting the claim process and maintains validity in each claim filed.

  • The claims department will follow up your claim with consistent communication with the insurance company until the claim is resolved.

Angel MedFlight's claims department is the buffer between the patient and the insurance company. They handle nearly all communication to make sure patients receive all of the coverage they are entitled to. If a patient's air ambulance claim is valid and denied coverage, the case moves from claims to legal - but that's a blog for another day.

Our patients know our commitment to getting them the treatment they require in their time of need.

Weather the Storm - Air Ambulances on Ice

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Weather conditions can be a challenge for air ambulances. Angel MedFlight is proud to hold a zero-incident record.

To some degree, everyone has had the unpleasant experience of operating heavy machinery on slippery ground or in low visibility - or both. The lack of control over your own vehicle is stressful enough, but counting on motorists sharing the road to be cautious as well can make anyone sweat a little.

Similarly (but on a much larger scale), pilots endure danger from the elements too. Imagine flying through freezing temperatures, snow covering the sky and limiting your visibility, and ice beginning to form, further limiting your visibility. You are on your approach for a landing with only your electronics to guide your descent. The runway is not in your range of sight and is nearly covered in snow and ice. Your flight crew trusts you to make the landing safely, as you always do. How do you feel now?

This scenario occurred for one air ambulance while medically-transporting a patient to Canada. Upon a fairly safe touchdown, the fixed-wing Lear 35 skidded a slight right, causing one wing to contact a large pile of snow on the side of the runway. Ice buildup and heavy snow conditions forced the plane into a slide. Luckily, the pilot was able to bring the plane to a halt - resulting in no injuries onboard. The plane, however, did suffer some damage in the incident. By following their training and procedure, the pilots did everything right.

Airports do their best to manage these conditions - especially those where weather conditions are a common problem. They clear runways of snow and ice regularly and maintain the safest possible landing environment - not usually an issue for our home base landings in Scottsdale, AZ.

Unfortunately, weather can have an effect on all methods of travel and can be unpredictable. It is up to air ambulance pilots and crew members to ensure a safe flight for patients and passengers. Angel MedFlight flight crew Captains are training throughout each year to maximize awareness and safety procedures. They are required to complete semi-annual simulator training (FlightSafety, Simuflite) in make and model aircraft being flown, maintain 1st class medical, and perform FAA checkrides. A patient's safety is Angel MedFlight's top priority.

Angel MedFlight is proud to earn a Gold ranking with ARGUS for our record of safety. ARGUS performs on-site audits of flight operation, maintenance, and safety. Our safety requirements are exceeding the current Gold rating expectations. A Platinum ranking is in the near future - securing our promise of air ambulance safety for years to come.

A Great Experience At Barrett-Jackson

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Angel MedFlight had a great time speaking with the public about the Learjet 35 air ambulance.

"How did you get that jet here?" "How fast can it go?" "How do you get the patient in there?" These were just a few of the typical questions people asked over the week during the 2013 Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale, AZ where Angel MedFlight displayed a Learjet 35. Angel MedFlight representatives were happy to answer curious car fans while showcasing a valuable service.

It was really cold... at first.

The first few days at Barrett-Jackson were filled with unforgiving weather. Temperatures reached highs of only about 30 degrees. This was great for the cars on the drift track near our display area - cooling off the heated motors of the Corvettes and Mustangs - but not ideal weather for patrons and vendors.

Despite the low temperatures, there was no shortage of car fans stepping out to check out the custom cars, boats, and of course, the largest jet to ever be displayed at the auction.

As the week progressed, the temperatures warmed to just over 70 degrees and the large standing heaters near each vendor booth went from heat source to shade source. The weather couldn't have been more dynamic - or perfect. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. With people from all over the world in one place, the climate was attractive to meet everyone's approval.

We met some great people.

The Angel MedFlight booth was approached by auto and aviation fans alike. People looking for answers to questions about the service provided and the Learjet 35 were greeted by our air ambulance medical crew, executive staff, and marketing department.

Providing scheduled tours of the jet were aviation staff members, Brandon Kearns and Wendy Whitaker. They were happy to explain the process of patient loading and transport, as well as point out the many features of Angel MedFlight's custom configurations. The concept of an air ambulance was unfamiliar to many who stopped by the booth. We were happy to explain the service, should the need arise.

Others that have experienced air ambulance services were kind enough to share their stories. We asked what they happened to like about their experience as well as what they felt needed improvement. As a leader in the air ambulance industry, Angel MedFlight is committed to providing world-class service. In this case, people from all around the world shared their thoughts. We are grateful for sharing their domestic and international perspectives.

The raffle for the mini tablet was a popular. Hundreds of people entered to win the prize. In addition to the raffle, Angel MedFlight gave out mini foam planes, mousepads, and informational material to those interested in our services.

We had a great time.

The week long display was not only informative for the public, but to us as well. Showcasing our staff and Learjet 35 confirmed that Angel MedFlight's patient care and equipment are industry-leading and that further exposure of our services is a necessity. We would like to thank everyone that stopped by to greet our staff and learn more about the aircraft and air ambulance services.

Air Ambulance Perspectives with Cooper Bolton

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor
Scottsdale, AZ

Cooper Bolton

In this edition of Air Ambulance Perspectives, we feature Cooper Bolton. Cooper is the Graphic Designer at Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance. He brings his creative talent into all aspects of Angel MedFlight's marketing materials including web graphics, print collateral, and large format print design.

AMF Contributor: What has been your most memorable experience at Angel MedFlight?

Cooper Bolton: I would have to say that my most memorable experience was setting up my office. Not only was it exciting to be in my own office, but fellow staff members of Angel MedFlight would come into the office and joke about the meticulous installation and structure of my whiteboard. Organization, attention to detail, and deadlines are important things in the world of graphic design. I apply these principles outside of the design world too. My lines were perfectly measured and straight. You couldn't ask for a cleaner, more efficient design for a whiteboard schedule template.

AMF Contributor: What do you like most about working at Angel MedFlight?

Cooper Bolton: Mainly the people. I get to work with some great individuals. I also love my job. I enjoy having the freedom to express my creativity in the design of each item. The executive staff is encouraging and welcomes new ideas and concepts for a variety of outgoing material.

AMF Contributor: Do you have any personal goals to reach while at Angel MedFlight?

Cooper Bolton: One of my early goals was to be more involved with trade shows and exhibits. I have recently met this goal by assisting with three so far! I was able to be involved with a children's carnival with Angel MedFlight, help with the display booth at an air show, and most recently, I was able to speak with the public about our Learjet 35 air ambulance at Barrett-Jackson.

A continuous goal of mine is to create new cutting-edge designs and graphics for current and future Angel MedFlight pieces.

Lastly, I would like to master the Wacom tablet.

AMF Contributor: Is there a particular air ambulance story that has impacted you, personally?

Cooper Bolton: Actually, there are two events. The first was the children’s carnival Angel MedFlight ran the first aid booth. Darren Thenell (Flight Paramedic) administered first aid and Cheri Lord (Legal Department) handed out treats to the children and their families. I did superhero and cartoon character sketches for the children.

The second event was when Angel MedFlight got involved with the Amazing Raise, a Ronald McDonald charity event, I was very excited to get involved. I was impressed to see how much Angel MedFlight cares about getting involved in the community.

It Takes More Than Flapping - Controlling an Air Ambulance

By: Angel MedFlight Contributor, feat. Brandon Kearns
Scottsdale, AZ

Angel MedFlight's Learjet 60 Air Ambulance

Chances are that at some point in your life you have stuck your hand out of the car window and actually taken flight. You could climb and descend your hand with only slight rotational movements relative to the wind.  I think that most of us have found ourselves being amazed that something such as an appendage was aerodynamic. Well believe it or not, flight controls on airplanes are not much different than your five fingered airplane.

Flight controls on Angel MedFlight's air ambulance airplanes are moved by the pilot which position the aircraft so that it can be either turned or climbed. Nearly every airplane made is comprised of the following flight controls:

The Ailerons

Located on the backs of both wings, these are used for the turning of the aircraft. When a pilot desires to turn, he/she moves the controls in the cockpit; one aileron goes up to lower the wing and the other goes down to raise the wing. The lowered wing is the one representing the direction of the turn.

The Elevators

The elevators are located on the rear portion of the tail flaps. They are used to pitch the aircraft up or down. When the elevator goes up, the nose of the aircraft does the same. When the elevator is lowered the nose is lowered as well.

The Rudder

For a boat to turn in the water, the ship’s Captain must steer - which then moves the rudder and ultimately steers the ship in the appropriate direction. Airplane rudders work very much in the same way. The only difference is elemental resistance. The rudder can be found on the back of the vertical stabilizer (the vertical tail).

The Flaps

The flaps are near the ailerons. They are the inner section of the rear of the wings. Aircraft have wing flaps primarily for landing. They allow the aircraft to increase the lift capability of the airplane's wing while flying at reduced speeds for landing. The wind resistance created assists in lowering the incoming speed.

Working in harmony, these controls and flaps move and rotate to direct wind - guiding the air ambulance in the targeted direction.

In case you are wondering how a pilot can choreograph the movements of all of these flight controls while assuring an airplane which weighs thousands of pounds stays in the air, I can sum it all up for you in one word: training. To ascertain each move that makes control possible, consistent training and product knowledge are necessary for effective flight management and safety.

Scottsdale, AZ