Every year, about 550,000 patients are flown to various facilities across the United States. Of the 550,000, 400,000 are flown via rotor-wing aircraft, while 150,000 flies via fixed-wing air ambulances.
In particular, under the current world situation, repatriation (in an emergency or otherwise) across the state or country lines via air ambulance is by far the best option. The speed of repatriation, medical personnel, and the equipment onboard make it possible to deal with any eventualities quickly
Repatriation of a loved one with preexisting health issues over a long distance is incredibly difficult. Doing it with unprofessional, ill-equipped, poorly trained individuals makes it even more difficult.
Because every patient’s health varies in one way or another, finding the right air ambulance company is the first and essential step in the repatriation process.
There are lots of considerations to make when selecting an air ambulance company. We spoke to Dr. Bernd Liendecker of Medical Repatriation UK on the essential things one should look out for, and below are the top 8 factors:
The proof of the pudding, as is oft said, is in the eating. Customer reviews or testimonials are a surefire way of knowing if the repatriation company you intend to use is reliable.
Other customer’s experiences are crucial – if past clients had a pleasant experience, so will you. If they didn’t, yours wouldn’t be different either. So it would be best if you did your due diligence – ask around, look online for patient reviews – this cannot be overstated. It’ll give you peace of mind, and you can be sure you’re hiring a reputable medical repatriation team.
Accreditation & Partnerships
Accreditations and partnerships are one of the first things you should look out for, since reputable companies need to meet specific standards before being accredited, and questionable medical repatriation companies won’t meet the requirements.
Critical accreditation and certifications, you should keep an eye out for are CAMTS, IAMTCS, and FAA. Partnerships count, too, since coordination and communication between like-minded parties are crucial in medical aviation.
Safety is a priority.
Reputable companies have no qualms offering details in line with safety practices, emergency procedures, standards, references, or air ambulance maintenance records to provide peace of mind to patients.
Only the very best air ambulance companies will maintain clean records, train their staff, and adhere to policy and procedures set forth by regulators.
Patient Care & Comfort
Medical repatriation over long distances can be incredibly tiresome. Also, a patient’s psychological well-being is essential to a successful medical repatriation process during long-distance flights. For this reason, picking companies that provide patient care necessities is crucial.
Besides essentials like having qualified medical personnel onboard, providing a therapeutic mattress, backup oxygen tanks, an onboard bathroom facility, etc., your air ambulance provider should have a provision for the next of kin to travel with the patient.
Generally speaking, the best air ambulance companies will have provisions for all medical situations, emergencies, or otherwise. Coupled with experienced medical personnel and a fleet of air & ground transport options, these companies can provide not only reliable medical repatriation but also a wide range of other services, e.g., bed-to-bed service, and ground ambulance services.
Commercial Repatriation Options
Seriously ill patients need quick repatriation via a fixed-wing plane or helicopter.
Depending on the patient’s condition or the flight route, however, reputable air ambulance companies should be able to provide commercial airline repatriation for “non-urgent” cases as a low-cost alternative to emergency repatriation,
The repatriation process has dozens of moving pieces, which makes it a complex one to make patient-friendly. Only a reputed air ambulance company will be able to see the bigger picture and understand the need to provide a complete service. A patient is taken from a hospital bed abroad and repatriated to a hospital bed in their preferred country.
Availability & Speed of Deployment
The availability & speed at which a patient’s request is accommodated says a lot about an air ambulance company. Because unforeseen incidents can happen at any time, air ambulance companies need to have staff trained to work quickly and calmly under short notice to provide quick solutions at any time, day or night.
When it comes to medical repatriation, however, not all air ambulance companies are created equal. Patient safety and well-being should be at the top of the list of considerations for each company pursuing this noble undertaking.