Although medical insurers might balk at the extra costs of using a dedicated air ambulance service to repatriate customers who sustain an injury or fall seriously ill while on holiday abroad, there are a wealth of arguments to justify using such services rather than rely on commercial charter operators to transfer a patient.
First and foremost, few charter operators can match the professional experience of patient transfer by aircraft that dedicated air ambulance services can offer. Air ambulance operators provide a comprehensive service that begins with expert briefings from ground crew and dispatchers through to highly trained flight and medical crews who have a wide range of experience in dealing with all sorts of situations.
In many cases, medical crew used by charter operators may not have the required flight experience that can ensure the optimal safety of a patient, especially if the patient’s health has deteriorated significantly in the time between the initial diagnosis received by the crew and their arrival at a foreign destination. If a patient’s health deteriorates suddenly during the flight home, air ambulance crew will have the equipment and expertise to deal with worst-case scenarios.
Indeed, dedicated air ambulances will have specialist equipment stored and properly secured aboard the aircraft, which cannot always be guaranteed by charter operators. This can pose a risk to the patient, and even the rest of the crew in the case of insecure oxygen bottles during take off and landing. Air ambulances are fully equipped to care for patients suffering a wide range of illnesses of traumas, and medical crews are trained not only in using this equipment, but also medical equipment used in other countries with which crew hired by charter operators may not be so familiar.
Air ambulances will also be designed to allow easy transfer of the patient from hospital ambulance into the aircraft. This is especially crucial for seriously ill or injured patients bound to a stretcher, when horizontal loading and off-loading is essential to maintaining the stability of their health.
Hygiene is another factor that must be taken into account. Dedicated air ambulances are transportable hospitals in which hygiene and disinfection are paramount. This might not always be the case on charter aircraft being used now and again for patient transfer operations.
All of these factors make the case of using dedicated air ambulances rather than charter operators clear. For the vast majority of air ambulance services, the health and safety of the patient are an absolute priority. That may mean extra costs, but in the long run it also means an efficient service that will avoid any legal complications that may arise should a charter operator not fulfil the terms and conditions required by insurers.