Medical evacuation using an air ambulance is the fastest way to evacuate a sick or injured person and bring them to their desired country for the medical treatment needed. As an Israeli based company, we many times came across Israeli citizens who were injured or got sick in undeveloped countries and bringing them to back to their home country by air ambulance was the fastest and most efficient way. That allowed them to have access to high-level medical care and being close to their family members.
What is an air ambulance?
It’s a medical jet transport. Usually, it is a small double-engine business jet, which can carry one or two patients, accompanied by a medical team of a doctor and a paramedic. In some cases, it might be a medical helicopter instead of a business jet.
The medical crew on a special COVID-19 flight we executed
What is a medical ambulance equipped with?
An air ambulance is equipped with all the necessary medical equipment, including a medical bed where a patient can be placed during takeoffs and landings, an equipped medical bag, an isolation cell in case of flying a COVID-19 patient, therapeutic oxygen (high pressure), defibrillator, fluid pump, critical indicators monitor, ventilator, CPAP machine, intubation system, suction for pumping fluids, high pressure oxygen masks and more.
Also, an air ambulance is equipped with a medicine kit and first aid equipment, infusions, and the medical staff has protective clothing, glasses, and masks.
The features in an air ambulance vary as the medical situation of every patient is different – some may need more equipment and for some the basic will suffice.
Special Air Ambulance Services
An air ambulance has a significant advantage over a normal flight: an air ambulance takes priority in air traffic. The traffic controllers try to shorten the air ambulance flight path, in order to shorten the flight time.
Usually, an air ambulance will be called on the radio with a unique nickname, “Air Ambulance”, and then the controllers already know to give it the requested priorities.
From the ambulance to the jet and vice versa
Execution of a Flight
Air ambulance flights usually leave at short notice, although there are air ambulance flights that are planned ahead – after planned surgeries or when it is known that the patient will undergo a long hospitalization but want to have the air ambulance flight option.
In order to issue an air ambulance flight, the patient’s medical condition must be known. The on-board doctor talks with the on-land treating doctor to receive the full medical information about the patient, the treatment he received, and the medications and treatments required for the duration of the flight. This way, the doctor on the aircraft can give the correct and best medical solution to the on-board patient.
Medical Flights vs. Air Ambulance
A medical flight can be in an air ambulance flight, or in a regular plane. A dedicated air ambulance includes staff and full medical equipment, a suitable bed and a backup of life support devices. However, a dedicated medical plane is not always required for medical flying. Sometimes, the patient has a medical situation in which it is better if he/ she will fly with as little contact as possible with other passengers. He/ she can fly in a regular jet, with or without the accompaniment of a medical team. In days like the days of the COVID-19 epidemic, medical flights of this type have a great advantage.
Medical flights are the best, fastest, and safest way to fly patients, recovering from surgery or undergoing a medical procedure. Medical flight is faster than any other way to fly a patient from country to country. In this way, medical flights have the possibility of transferring a patient from hospital to hospital within a few hours.
It also allows the possibility of isolation from strangers. During the medical flight of an oncology patient, for example, who flies to another country as part of medical tourism for oncology treatments, his/ her immune system is vulnerable. A medical flight provides an excellent answer to this, since only the plane’s crew comes into contact with him/ her.
Another example of the need for medical flights is the return of organ transplant recipients to Israel. Here too, the vulnerability of the transplanted after the operation requires avoiding contact with strangers, certainly inside a large plane. Flying such a patient in a medical plane, not necessarily in an ambulance flight, allows the surgeon and his attendants this peace of mind.
The Comfort of Flying in an Executive Plane
A flight in a private plane means that a sick or injured person has a spacious seating area, personal service from a flight attendant, optimal adaptation of the flight times to his/ her needs (within the limits of operating hours of airports and operating hours of the aircraft crew, as required by law) and the possibility of joining companions as he/ she wishes (note that in an ambulance flight the number of attendants is limited due to the need to provide medical treatment during the flight).
Over the past two years, Jet-Ways has carried out several air ambulance flights in which both kidney transplant recipients were evacuated back to Israel. Also, Due to the pandemic we operated ambulance flights of COVID-19 patients who were evacuated in special isolation cells back to Israel.
Despite the complexity of the ambulance flights, these flights are not significantly different in price from private flights for business or pleasure. The medical condition of the patient being flown, the crew accompanying the flight and the measures necessary to maintain the patient’s health during the flight will define which tools will be required on the aircraft and determine the exact costs of the flight. Of course, the urgency and the distance also have an effect in determining the price.
An on-board medical team, full medical equipment for any emergency, priority in landing and flight routes, special equipment (such as isolation cells for COVID-19 patients) and of course – urgent and quick planning of the flight.
In general, an air ambulance will be used for traumatic injuries, for flying patients from third-world countries to first-world medical treatment and for international organ donation.
The obvious cases where an air ambulance will be needed would be a traumatic injury that requires a medical emergency treatment and sometimes rescue. These are usually done by helicopters using professional rescue teams.
Other cases would be for patients in third world countries, seeking a first-world medical treatment in their homeland or in another, more advanced, country. These cases are common, especially in war zones or during pandemic (such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which led for requests of flying in an air ambulance).
Another time an air ambulance will be called is in an international organ donation. We had the honor of executing such flights – on the way from Israel we brought two kidneys from Israeli donors, and on the way back we brought another pair from locals on the other country. This is a very sensitive operation, which requires keeping the organs in the best condition and bringing them from the hospital in Israel to a hospital overseas – as fast as possible, with no delays and without tempering the kidneys.