Whether it’s the result of an accident, illness, or some other occurrence, many people find themselves in need of medical transport. While many will immediately think of standard ground ambulances, this is not always the most appropriate choice.
Here are some of the top ways of transporting patients and the circumstances in which they might be used:
- Ground Ambulance.
- Airline Medical Escort.
- Flight Nurse Companion.
- Commercial Stretcher.
- Air Ambulance.
1. Ground Ambulance
In most cases, a patient who suffers a traumatic or medical condition will be transported by a ground ambulance. These vehicles are equipped to provide emergency and non-emergency care during transport. Often thought of as a single type of transport, there are actually different types of ambulances, including those based on a heavy truck chassis-cab with a specialty rear module, heavy-duty van types, van chassis-cabs with custom-made rear compartment, and smaller utility vehicles capable of reaching areas that larger vehicles cannot.
In addition to differences in build of ambulance, there are also different functions, including, but not limited to:
- Emergency Ambulance to provide care for those suffering illness or injury on the way to a medical care facility
- Patient Transport Ambulance to transport patients between treatment facilities
- Ambulance Bus to transport large numbers of patients
- Bariatric Ambulance to transport extremely obese patients using specialty equipment
2. Airline Medical Escort
At times, a patient will need to be transported by airplane, but if their needs are comparatively minor, it may suffice to have an airline medical escort who can provide non-emergency travel assistance. In this sort of situation, the patient may be able to travel normally, but experience some difficulty doing so. An airline medical escort may be suitable for patients with reduced mobility or orthopaedic issues. Others who would benefit from an airline medical escort include cancer patients, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, and others with special needs.
Although those with behavioural health issues may be candidates for this type of transport, it would not be available to those whose behavioural issues cause them to act out, as they would not be permitted to take a commercial flight.
3. Flight Nurse Companion
During those times when transporting a patient requires a little more care than a simple escort, a flight nurse companion may be advisable. These nurses are trained to provide emergency medical care that may mean the difference between life and death for their patient.
Flight nurses will normally work for public or private hospitals or clinics while also being part of a medical transport operation. Their care allows for patients to be transferred between facilities. This may involve bringing a patient to a location where they can receive better or more specialized medical care, but may also include medical repatriation, working with organ donation, and more. The duties of a flight nurse companion include:
- the operation of medical equipment
- administering medications
- advanced life support and resuscitation procedures
- obtaining fitness to fly documents and other airline medical certificates
- ensuring the proper handling of airline medical clearances
Flight nurses ensure that the patient reaches their destination safely, keeping them stabilized during transit.
4. Commercial Stretcher
Those who fly accompanied by a flight nurse companion are, generally speaking, in sufficiently good condition that they can take a normal airline seat. While they may have some difficulties, they are not so pronounced as to require additional accommodation by the airline.
Other times, a patient must be transported a long distance and require additional support as their condition is serious enough that a flight nurse companion cannot meet all of their needs. In these cases, a commercial stretcher may be warranted.
As the name implies, a commercial stretcher involves the installation of a medical stretcher on an otherwise normal passenger flight, accompanied by a medical team to accompany the patient. This is a much more cost-effective alternative to a private air ambulance (see below), and it can save the patient thousands of dollars while still providing them with a high level of care.
During the flight, the team of medical professionals will accompany the patient and their family. They will see to all of the patient’s needs, staying with them from the transfer at the original medical facility through the flight and ultimate arrival and set up at their destination.
Aside from the reduced price, another advantage of a commercial stretcher over a standard air ambulance is that the commercial flight typically has a greater range, allowing for a longer flight without stopovers. This can be a significant consideration for the patient. The flight is also less likely to be impacted by unfavourable weather conditions, owing to its larger size.
5. Air Ambulance
Unlike other options that allow a patient to fly on a standard commercial flight, an air ambulance lives up to the name as an aircraft that has been professionally set up and equipped to function as a normal ambulance, albeit one that can fly.
Air ambulances, like commercial flights, can take patients across the country, or across the globe. They may be used to transfer a patient to a better facility, bring them to a specialist, or serve to aid in medical repatriation.
The crew accompanying the patient manages every detail of their care and their flight, keeping them safe and secure while also seeing to the details of air and ground transportation and the requirements of the flight.
Air ambulances offer the advantage of very fast medical response, even when accessing remote locations, and they are equipped to handle just about any situation that may arise, with equipment that may include breathing apparatus and monitoring systems, defibrillators, blood transfusion equipment, and a range of emergency medications.
While no one ever wants to deal with medical emergencies, it’s reassuring to know that there are many options available for the safe transport of patients, ensuring that they can get the care they need when they need it. Whether the patient needs to travel across town, across the country, or across the ocean, there is a means to get them where they are going in safety and comfort.
For more information on air medical services and the ways LifeSupport can assist you, contact us today.
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