May 20, 2014

What To Do If You Need An Air Medical Flight

Criteria You Should Consider For Air Medical Transportation Services

You, a friend, a patient or a loved one may be in need of an air medical flight. Do you know where to begin to find a reputable company, what questions to ask, what to look for? 
The Options:

First, many types of air ambulance companies exist. Some use helicopters, some use piston-powered propeller planes and some use business-class jets. Another type of air ambulance company is the air ambulance broker. All of these companies provide different services. We will break down the differences to help you determine the best option for you.

The Aircraft:

Helicopter Air Ambulance Companies - Typically utilized for emergent care, transporting patients from an accident scene to a medical facility. As of February 2014, there were currently 75 registered air ambulance companies in the U.S. Some of these companies provide medical transport besides emergent care. If the distance is relatively short, the ride can be noisy and bumpy.

Piston Powered Aircraft Air Ambulance Company – These companies fly twin piston-engine propeller aircraft that have a longer range than a helicopter. They are slightly roomier and able to fly longer distances. One disadvantage is that these types of planes cannot climb to altitudes above inclement weather, and can experience turbulence, which could make for an uncomfortable flight for the patient.

Jet-Powered Aircraft Air Ambulance Company – This is the preferable method to transport critically ill or injured patients for longer distances. Jets are fast, comfortable, have a longer range, including international capabilities. They can climb to higher altitudes, well above congested airways, above bad weather conditions.

Air Ambulance Brokers – Think of these companies as the middleman. They do not operate their own aircraft. They broker with other companies to provide the flight for you. This can often increase the cost of the flight, because of the broker’s fee for providing this service. You are best dealing directly with an air ambulance company that owns, operates and maintains its own fleet of aircraft.

When vetting these different companies, be sure to ask about their safety record: what type of medical licenses or special certifications they have; what certifications do the medical personnel they employ have; and who will be on the flight with the patient. 

Experience Matters In Air Ambulance Transportation

Check the experience level of their pilots. Are they new pilots with little experience or seasoned professionals with thousands of flight hours? 

See what additional services they offer, such as working with your insurance company on your behalf or arranging the ground transportation. 

Will they handle all the other details of the transport? Make sure to find out the total cost of the services, and also whether your insurance provider will cover an air medical flight.  

It is advisable to start by doing your research online. You can gather most of this information from the company’s website. After you have found a few companies that can meet your needs, search for consumer reviews or recommendations. Armed with information, you will be more confident in making the right choice for yourself, your loved one or your patient.

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