Cost Effective Air Transfers Requiring Good Planning
When we think of air transfers or air ambulances we often think of helicopters and jets. And we also assume that these are expensive services. But in many cases, it is possible to make use of regular passenger flights to conduct air medical transfers. These are not only cost-effective but also allow for more co-passengers with the patient.
Here’s a guide to understanding the basics of engaging ‘flight stretchers’ or space in a scheduled passenger flight to carry patients across the world. This is one of the services offered by Bluedot alongside medical escorts and medical jets. All cases are subject to scrutiny by our medical director and concerned flight authorities before approval.
We begin with a pre-flight assessment to understand the patient’s condition and ensure a fit-to-fly certificate. We tap into our network of passenger airlines, to arrange the booking of a flight stretcher, with a qualified medical crew and the equipment to take care of our patients. Bluedot covers the full package from:
- Obtaining the medical reports, fit fly certificate,
- Arranging air and ground transportation
- Contact healthcare providers and family
- Updating your family as the journey progresses
A set of seats are removed from the empty sections of a booked passenger flight and replaced with an FAA-approved stretcher. Other select aeromedical equipment needed to monitor and tend to the patient are loaded on flight as well. Aeromedically trained doctors and nurses from the Bluedot team attend to the patient throughout the journey, just as they would do in an Air Ambulance jet service.
While the cost of engaging a stretcher on a commercial flight can be as low as one-third the cost of an air ambulance jet, care must be taken in planning the details of the journey. With skilled scheduling and sufficient care, patients will feel comfortable and safe in their medical journeys. This is where services by a professional and committed team make a big difference.
Here is a real-life example from one of Bluedot’s missions involving a critical minor patient skilfully flown on a scheduled commercial flight:
“A 9-month-old baby, post-cardiac arrest following foreign body aspiration, on the ventilator, was planned for commercial flight stretcher transfer with medical support from Dubai to Chennai. As per the protocol, the flight paramedics, along with the baby, reached the airport medical centre after necessary clearances and was waiting for the boarding call.
Events took a wrong turn when we were informed that the incoming flight got delayed due to an emergency landing in Muscat. Instead of a usual 1-hour wait, we were stranded at the airport medical centre overnight for 13 hours straight, with the baby.
Since the parents insisted on having their baby in medical care, we were left with no choice but to keep the baby at the Airport clinic itself. It was a major clinical challenge since she was on ventilator support, sedative infusion, monitored feeds, and multiple medications among other support. The only way was to convert the airport clinic into a paediatric ICU, to keep the baby stable and monitored with continued care, and be prepared to handle any unfortunate event.
We met with two episodes of hypoglycaemia (despite adequate nutrition and hydration), a brief run of bradycardia, an episode of a seizure (in the form of uprolling of eyes), and a short febrile event – all taken care of appropriately. Finally, after 24 hours of discharge from the hospital in Dubai, we handed over the baby safely to the paediatric ICU team at the receiving hospital in Chennai. “
Thus a medical journey on a passenger flight that should’ve taken about 10 hours, lasted more than 24 hours due to a commercial flight delay. However, the skilled and committed aeromedical team with planning and experience was able to manage the patient’s care until handing over at the end of the journey. At Bluedot, with our leading medical team and management, you can rest assured that your medical journeys will be taken care of. Get in touch with us at +971 551 881 441 to know more about our flight stretcher services and medical repatriation.