--Interview with Global Health Insider
Luxembourg, 17 March 2016 - Patrick Schomaker is the Director of Sales & Marketing at European Air Ambulance, the leading aeromedical provider in Europe. In his nine-year stint thus far, Mr. Schomaker has been actively negotiating agreements with international partners to enhance European Air Ambulance’s medical offerings.
While the company maintains its price point, Mr. Schomaker is confident that they are an edge over the others in what are truly important – safe flight, comprehensive medical equipment and on-board experts. Indeed, the 28-year-old company boasts a fleet of 5 air ambulance aircraft, and had its fair share of specialised missions.
Global Health Insider delves further in an insightful interview with Mr. Schomaker.
Q: Can you tell us about European Air Ambulance and your services?
Operating out of Luxembourg, we have 28 years of experience providing medical repatriation services from over 150 countries around the world. This makes us one of the leading air ambulance operators in Europe. Our end-to-end patient care is enhanced by numerous international cooperation agreements with other providers.
European Air Ambulance responds rapidly to repatriation requests and our missions control team can quickly prepare the most efficient and safest flight path for the outbound and inbound journeys.
Our fleet of 5 air ambulance aircraft, 3 Learjet 45XR and 2 Learjet 35A, are fitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment and supplies. In addition, we have on call a large pool of medical experts including anaesthetists, gynaecologists and obstetricians.
But we also have a team of neonatologists and paediatricians, and specialised intensive care paediatric flight nurses or paramedics trained in Advanced Paediatric Life Support who can accompany the repatriation or medical transfer of new-born babies with incubators. EAA can also organise the repatriation of patients, either on a stretcher or as sitting patient on board scheduled commercial flights, escorted by a physician, a nurse or paramedic.
Q: What are the major challenges you face as an air ambulance service and how do you manage these challenges?
The air ambulance industry is ever expanding and regulations are shifting. One major challenge is the short-term competition we face from the arrival of new providers who offer air ambulance services at what we might call dumping prices. We have many loyal clients who recognise the premium service we provide and know that experience in the field counts for a lot when it comes to efficiency and providing safety and optimum treatment for patients. But occasionally a price-sensitive client may be tempted to switch provider. However, they later come back to European Air Ambulance once they have experienced the sort of low-cut service the new company provides.
European Aviation Safety Agency regulations are also changing constantly, which means that costs evolve in order to comply with the latest rules, Unfortunately, to remain a sustainable business, increasing costs have to be passed on to clients in order to maintain the excellent service we have been providing for over two decades.
Q: How do you gain partnerships with large international corporations?
I think our track record, 28 successful years as an air ambulance operator, speaks volumes. We have a reputation for offering a high-quality service at a fair price.
But at European Air Ambulance we never rest on our laurels. We are always adapting our service to stay one step ahead of the competition. So we can offer partner companies comprehensive bed-to-bed transfer and a wide range of other services to cover all their client requirements.
We have gained the trust of companies by being honest and transparent; and by communicating immediately any problems or issues with a mission and offering them alternative options.
Q: Can you tell us about your current project emergency.lu?
This is a new platform providing an innovative end-to-end service for the international humanitarian community. It is supported and financed by the Luxembourg government.
Emergency.lu allows us, with the assistance of other technical parties with satellite infrastructure and capacity and communication and coordination services, to provide rapid response solution for disaster relief and humanitarian operations. We have put our fleet of Learjets at the disposal of the project.
The project is a complementary solution to the international humanitarian tool-box. Missions are performed in coordination with the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the European Union.
European Air Ambulance was chosen as a partner because of our experience in humanitarian projects – we are used to being able to launch international missions within two hours’ notification.
Q: What kind of strategy do you use for marketing a very specific and highly specialised type of service?
The best way to communicate our services is by direct contact with those companies – potential clients – that require quality aeromedical repatriation services. I attend as many of the key conferences around the globe as possible, as this is where the real decision makers meet.
But we also are active online and publish articles on new developments at European Air Ambulance. These cover a wide range of medical innovations or reports on unusual missions from which others in the industry might learn, as well as news about developments in operational or technical aspects.
Q: What can we expect from European Air Ambulance in the future?
EAA is constantly looking to adapt to the needs of our clients, and to envisage any future requirements and service they may need. To this end, we continue to develop new features such as our paediatric and neonatal service, which we have enhanced by purchasing permanent equipment including two incubators and a BabyPod. Our dedicated Infectious Diseases Unit, which has at its disposal an EASA-approved IsoPod, is another area we are developing. We have also started specialising in the transport of overweight patients.
To sum up, we will continue to be available for our clients whenever and wherever they require our assistance. We are dedicated to offering the best possible aeromedical transportation service.