The term air ambulance gets tossed around quite a bit in healthcare. But, do you really know what to look for, what questions to ask, the most beneficial type of air ambulance for your patient or loved one, etc.? While future articles will dive into more details (and we really hope you will come back for more), let’s look here at some overall questions that many people seem to have about air ambulances.
Air Ambulance: Defined
First, let’s look at the term. Many people immediately think of the helicopter response teams that metropolitan cities throughout the world have standing at the ready in case of emergency. We think of the first responders of Life Flight, Star Flight, etc. These amazing folks are ready to help as primary or initial responders when you call 911.
Then, there are fixed wing air ambulances (which is what we do). We transport patients that have generally been to a hospital and have been stabilized, but they need to be transported to another location. We have everything that an emergency room has (except x-ray), including full lab testing, ventilators, cardioversion, etc. And, we do it all at approximately 41,000-46,000 feet!
When flying anywhere over 150 air miles, it is more appropriate (and cheaper) to use a fixed wing air ambulance than a helicopter.
Insurance Pays For Air Ambulance Services
For example, let’s say a patient or your family member is on vacation (many miles from home) and presents to the hospital with a heart attack. He is stabilized but is now going to require weeks of aftercare. And, for our example, let’s say that this patient has an HMO insurance plan. His insurance wants him back home because:
- He will be back in network, which is more cost-effective.
- The care will be more appropriate as he can be with his loved ones and see his doctors.
Family obviously wants him back home so they can be with him throughout his recovery. They also would prefer to avoid the added cost of hotel, meals, etc. at the vacation location while their loved one is recovering.
And, the patient would obviously like to be home because he will be more comfortable with his family near and his familiar healthcare team. And, in turn, he will probably heal faster as a result.
“I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane”
Ever thought about why it is important that we use jet airplanes instead of prop planes? If you are about to put a patient or loved one into an air ambulance, you might want to think about it. There are some big differences. Remember earlier we told you that we are a full working ER at approximately 41,000 feet? That is because we are in a jet. We can climb higher in altitude which allows for the following:
- Safer flight – because we can divert around weather
- Smoother flight
- And a much more comfortable flight for the patient
A turbo prop plane can only climb to about 10,000 to 12,000 feet. Therefore, it can’t divert around bad weather, it can be a bumpy ride, and it may not pressurize as easily.
More To Come…
We have so much more to tell you about our services. We can’t wait! So, please look for more detailed articles soon. For example, we are based near Austin, TX (and very close to MD Anderson in Houston), but we fly all over the world.
Did you know that while US healthcare is the best in the world, it is also the most expensive? Having said that, did you also know that your medical insurance probably doesn’t cover you when you are traveling? It’s true! And most of us don’t think to buy travel insurance. Summer is fast approaching – so please stop back by for our article devoted to travel and insurance.
We hope this gives you a small glimpse into the world of fixed wing air ambulances. Do you have a question for us? We would love to hear it. Please leave it in the comment section below.