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Medical Flights – What are they and Why they are Needed?

M and S were two pensioners who had gone on a trip to Sweden three years ago, together with another couple. During their trip they drove their rental car around the country and had a wonderful time, until, unfortunately, they had a car accident. All four of them were injured to different degrees, and found themselves in a situation in which they couldn’t go on with their trip and needed to get back home as soon as possible. There they would be able to get further treatment and rehabilitation.

Lucky for the four travelers, they were in good enough condition so that the Swedish doctors who gave them initial treatment could approve their transfer home by air ambulance. The two couples were insured by two different medical insurance companies. One of them immediately agreed to transfer the couple it insured by air ambulance. The couple was indeed transferred by medical flight, and within 24 hours arrived at a hospital in their country of origin. There they received further treatment, surrounded and cared for by their relatives and friends. The other insurance company, however, posed difficulties concerning the transfer, and it was delayed. The second couple remained in a Swedish hospital for five more days, where they had to go through treatments alone, in a foreign country, away from their family. Due to the good quality of treatment they received in the hospital, no physical harm was caused to them, but the emotional damage was immense. It complicated their future rehabilitation and lengthened it significantly. We can only imagine what would have been the damage had they been injured in a country less developed than Sweden. 

What is an air ambulance?

An air ambulance is an aircraft which functions as a bona fide ambulance. It carries all of the medical equipment necessary to give emergency treatment, just like a regular ambulance. This allows the medical staff on board the aircraft to treat and stabilize the patients’ condition while the patient is on their way to get treatment elsewhere. Contrary to what may be expected, air ambulances hold many advantages over regular ambulances. An ambulance flight carries a medical team specifically tailored to the patient’s condition. This team can include specialists, consultants and nurses, as well as paramedics, unlike regular ambulances which normally carry a team of paramedics only. The team is in no hurry to treat other patients, like in the ambulances we see on the roads. During the whole flight, the team is focused only on the transferred patient, and is dedicated to their welfare, comfort and to stabilizing or improving their medical condition. The conditions on the plane also allow for extra comfort to the patient, more than in any other way of transfer. 

When is it necessary to transfer a patient by ambulance flight?

Sadly, this happens in many more cases than you may imagine. In the last few years, people have been travelling from country to country more than ever before, mostly because of the option of low-cost flights. But the larger the number of people flying to foreign countries, the larger the number and types of injury. Many vacationers are injured in different kinds of accidents while visiting a foreign country, whether by car accident, during treks, participating in sports events or doing extreme sports or climbing, in drowning accidents, and even in terrorist attacks. Many times, even a minor injury can force a traveler to cut short their trip and get transferred back home.

Other occasions in which evacuation by aircraft is needed include situations in which a patient cannot receive the treatment they need where they’re at, for any reason. If suitable treatment can only be found in another country or a great distance away in the same country, the patient would need a flight transfer to get to that treatment. 

How is such a flight arranged?

Private aviation companies that specialize in ambulance flights are well practiced in taking care of all of the needed arrangements to transfer a patient by air. They organize the transferring of the patient to and from the aircraft, assist in getting the approval of medical insurance companies, coordinate licensing and permits at the country of origin and destination, provide accompaniment and updates about the patient’s condition to their family members, and more. All you have left to do is pick up the phone and call a company representative, and everything else would be done by the company itself, no need to worry.

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