EAA repatriates hundreds of sick and injured people each year - but before an air ambulance mission can get off the ground, every patient must receive clearance from our medical team.
As soon as we receive a request for assistance at our Mission Control Centre, we begin gathering and clarifying details about the patient and his/her situation. These are passed to our medical experts, who make a decision based on a number of factors including: the current hospital/doctor’s reports; discussions with the medical team treating the patient; further tests if necessary; and an assessment of the patient’s location and access to assistance on the ground.
Every case is evaluated individually using a risk/benefit assessment, where the risk in transport is judged against the benefit of repatriation – or simply stated, would flying home put the patient at greater risk than if they remained abroad.
At European Air Ambulance A we are confident in our ability to safely transport the vast majority of patients. However, the more detailed and accurate the information we receive beforehand, both medical and logistical, the better we can judge what is in the patient’s best interests - and the quicker we can plan a personalised, safe and speedy transfer home. We therefore ask those requesting assistance for as many details as possible about the patient, including:
- Diagnosis and current medical reports – these must be immediate and up-to-date. We may request further information or medical tests (x-ray, scan, etc.) if necessary.
- Full background to current illness/injury, with evolution from first symptoms to hospital admission to present date – is the patient’s condition improving or worsening?
- Past medical history – underlying or pre-existing conditions may be unrelated to the current problem, but can cause complications during transport if we are not aware of them.
- Details of current treatment regime – drugs, dosage etc.
- Details of special medical equipment in use - ventilation, monitoring, electrical syringes etc.
- All relevant administrative data, including the patient’s passport details and any visa details. The passport must be physically with the patient.
- Physical data, including the patient’s weight, size, height and BMI. Although we can carry many heavier-weight patients, we have an upper limit of 170kg and a width restriction of 70cm due to the aircraft doors.
- Name, address, department, and personal contact at both origin and destination hospitals.
- Details of named person to be contacted in case of emergency.
Once the patient is cleared for transport, and the customer has signed the contract, EAA’s control centre team will assemble the relevant medical and flight crew and complete the logistical planning. The mission is then active, designed entirely around the specific needs of the patient.
The importance of detailed, accurate and up-to-date information cannot be overstated. It enables us to select the appropriate medical crew from our pool of specialists; to ensure we are properly equipped to deal with the patient, for example with specific drugs or heavier weight stretcher system; and to plan a smooth and speedy handover of the patient.
Inaccurate or incomplete information can lead to unforeseen risks to both patient and crew, wasted flight-time and man-hours, huge expense – and ultimately a worse outcome for the patient.
Read about the importance
of good medical clearing