Crashes are generally the first thing that patients worry about when confronted with aeromedical, or medevac flights. However this is just one of many challenges that passengers and air ambulance personnel must address and overcome prior to take off. Other factors like cost effectiveness, emergency medical phenomena, and even preventing injuries onboard are equally important.
Air Travel Safety
For whatever reason, crashing seems to be the biggest concern shared by current and potential passengers. Blame it on instinct, conditioning, or a profound respect for the law of gravity; most people just don’t like being very far from the ground, let alone flying. In fact, something like 30% of the U.S. population has a fear of heights. Is this just an overreaction, though?
Not exactly, say experts.
According to public data and transportation authorities, the number of medical flight crashes has actually increased over the years. This rather unsettling trend first began in the early 90’s, then actually doubled from 2000-2005. After a safety report stated that nearly half of all emergency personnel deaths occurred in air ambulance flights, the government issued a number of guidelines designed to prevent such fatal crashes.
Affordability is the next biggest challenge individuals face when facing medical air travel. A huge misconception is that insurance will automatically cover these costs. Unfortunately, this should never be assumed in these types of situations. While obviously, some emergencies occur without warning and financial affairs are not likely the first thought a victim has, a little preparation can go a long way.
Overcoming this hurdle can be as simple as making a phone call to your health care carrier or even the flight coordinator. The alternative is getting blind-sighted with overwhelming medical bills, or potentially ruining your credit.
Emergency Medical Phenomena
Next, a medical phenomenon referred to as “the golden hour” presents a unique issue for air ambulance patients. In the medical community, the first hour following an emergency is largely considered the most important in terms of treatment outcome & patient survival.
To be sure, the golden hour is one of the leading reasons air evacuation is required in the first place. Yet, ironically, is a contributing factor in the high number of medevac crashes. Because pilots generally fly in conditions most commercial planes would never attempt, this time frame represents not only a danger to the patient, but to medical personnel as well.
Preventing Injuries While In Route
Finally, getting hurt during the flight itself probably seems like a remote possibility. The sad truth of the matter is that federal regulations only require a bare minimum when it comes to patient comfort and injury prevention in the air. At present, there is only one air ambulance company in the nation that provides the following features to ensure passenger safety & comfort:
- harnesses for medical equipment
- extra cushioning in patient beds
- safety rails that can be adjusted to secure passengers
- mechanical doorways
As you can see, crashes are a very significant air ambulance challenge that patients and personnel must overcome. Nevertheless, other issues such as cost effectiveness, unique medical circumstances, and in-flight injuries play equal roles in the lives of those dealing with emergency air travel.