Choosing an Air Ambulance company can be a daunting task and one not likely to be done very often.
These questions will serve to identify only the top quality companies as unfortunately not all Air Ambulance providers are the same.
Using this comparison chart will help keep things simple and organized and help you make the best decision and choose the best air ambulance provider for the patient.
Price should not be the only parameter in making a decision. Make sure you get to know your potential Air Ambulance company by asking a lot of questions. Your questions should be answered to our satisfaction. If they aren’t, follow your instincts and find a company that provides the best answers regarding safety, training and patient care.Download Comparison Checklist
|Aircraft Type||LearJet 35A|
|Aircraft Range||2125 Nautical Miles (4 Hours)|
|Flight Level||41,000-43,000 ft|
|Aircraft Speed||440 Knots (500 mph)|
|Cabin Door Size||Cargo Door (36 Inches)|
|Do you have your own Part 135 Certificate?||Yes|
|Do you operate your own aircraft?||Yes|
|Has the company ever had an accident?||No|
|What accreditations does the company have?||EURAMI, CAMTS|
|Does the medical crew go bedside to bedside?||Yes|
|Will there be any additional charges after the flight?||No|
|Are there long contracts to sign?||No|
|Is the medical crew yours or contracted?||We hire and train our own medical crew|
|Does the company utilize a loading ramp?||Yes. This is a very important safety feature and prevents any tipping, tilting or wobbling of the patient|
|What kind of medical environment does the patient fly in?||Patients fly in executive quality Lear interiors and are offered noise cancelling headsets with therapeutic music as well as hand massages with aromatherapy|
|How many hours do the pilots have and where are they trained?||Pilots must have a minimum 3000 hours to be hired and are trained at the world renown Flight Safety in Tucson Arizona|
|Price (ground included)|
The LearJet is a small business jet most suitable for air ambulance missions. It is a cost effective aircraft that can transport patients quickly to their destinations. Other aircraft are also used in the air ambulance industry as well. To ensure your patient is transported in the correct aircraft-use our medical aircraft comparison chart.
A Learjet 35A has a four hour range before requiring a fuel stop. This means the patient can fly almost anywhere in the United States non-stop. Aircraft with less range require more fuel stops. More fuel stops-more stress for the patient. Additionally, only jets should be used if going more than 500 miles to their destination.
Flying at higher altitudes ensures a smooth ride and provides better comfort for the patient. Check the altitude other company’s aircraft fly at. Lower altitudes will be bumpier, less comfortable and more stressful for the patient.
A fast aircraft means your patient will get to their destination quicker. Slower aircraft means your patient will be in the air longer. Travelling by air has some inherent risks. Getting a patient to their destination quickly is in the their best interest.
Cabin Door Size
A 36 inch cargo door allows for ease of movement into the aircraft while the patient is being loaded and unloaded. A smaller, 24 inch executive door requires more maneuvering of the patient and poses safety issues.
Do you operate under a Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate?
This question can help you weed out brokers. Brokers are companies who have a phone and a fax. They do not have part 135 Certificates. A Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate is approved by the FAA. Ask for a copy of their A999 (Air Carrier Certificate).Those companies that cannot produce a 135 Air Carrier Certificate are not legitimate air ambulance companies and need to be avoided at all costs.
Do you own/lease your own aircraft?
This is another question that will ensure you are dealing with a legitimate air ambulance operator rather than a broker. Additionally, ask for the tail number of the aircraft of their D085 (which is a listing of their aircraft they are authorized to conduct operations in. Additionally, you can look up the tail number on www.faa.gov and verify you are using an aircraft owned by the company you are dealing with. Don’t use a company that blocks their aircraft the tail number. What are they trying to hide?
Has the company ever had an accident?
Safety is the highest priority while transporting a patient. This should be a simple yes or no answer without any hesitation. There are some companies who have had fatal accidents. If the response to this question is “Well-it is aviation”-or you are given a vague answer, hang up the phone and move on to another company as there are other good companies out there.
What accreditations does the company have?
Some companies might state “they don’t need to be accredited” to provide good care. It is highly unlikely they are performing at the stringent standards accreditations demand. Accreditation is an important differentiator in the air ambulance industry and shows the commitment of the company in providing a certain standard of care. Having more than one accreditation is a definite plus as it shows the commitment of the company to provide the absolute highest standard of care that dual accreditations demand. Recognized accreditations in the air ambulance industry are:
The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS)
European Air Medical Institute (EURAMI)
Does the medical crew go bedside to bedside?
As a standard in the industry, the medical crew from the air ambulance service should always go bedside. This ensures the patient is correctly assessed at the sending facility before transport. Bedside to bedside service also guarantees a smooth and seamless transition from the sending to the receiving facility. The ground ambulance crew (without the flight crew) going to the bedside does not constitute bedside to bedside!
Will there be any additional charges incurred after the flight?
There should never be any additional charges incurred after a flight. Quotes are “all inclusive”, including ground ambulances on both ends-unless otherwise stated. Unfortunately, some companies do bill additional charges after the fact-something you won’t know until-after the fact. We will never charge any additional charges.
Are there any long contracts to sign?
BEWARE of multiple page contracts! Patients and family members who need to be transported via air ambulance are experiencing high levels of stress. Some air ambulance companies take advantage of this situation and count on patients and family members not carefully reading long contracts. Long contracts are not meant to protect the patient but rather the air ambulance company and there could be some very hidden surprises imbedded in the contract. Remember-a written contract supersedes anything verbally promised. If you are sent a long contract-simply run away.
Is the medical crew employed by the company or are they contracted?
The definition of a contracted employee is “one who provides their own equipment as well as training.” What this means to you-if the medical crew is contracted-they receive minimal to no training from the company. Choose a company that invests in quality initial training as well as continuing training. Ask for a list of actual training requirements-if the company cannot produce one-the patient might be at risk.
Does the company utilize a loading ramp for loading/unloading the patient?
A loading ramp is a mechanical device that attaches directly to the stretcher system inside the aircraft and is utilized during loading/unloading of the patient into the aircraft. Many companies do not utilize a loading ramp but rather a “make shift device” or the strength of the crew to manually load a patient into the aircraft. The loading ramp is a must for safety and prevents any tipping, tilting or wobbling of the patient during this critical process.
What kind of medical environment does the patient fly in?
No one wants to fly in an aircraft that has seen better days. Patients should fly in executive quality interiors in a pleasant medical environment. Additionally, what kind of personal amenities does the air ambulance provider use? We provide our patients with noise cancelling headsets with therapeutic music as well as hand massages with aromatherapy. These innovated methods help reduce stress and anxiety as well as create a comfortable experience along with peace of mind.
How many hours do the pilots have and where are they trained?
Pilot experience is an integral function for safe operations. Flying in adverse weather conditions to airports not commonly flown into, requires pilots with high level of experience. Pilots having more than 3,000 hours of experience should be well qualified. Anything less can put your patient at risk due to the nature of flying.
Additionally, ask where the pilots are trained. Pilots are required 40 hours of recurrent training each year as well as various “flying checkrides” every six months for Captains and annually for first officers. Pilot training is expensive and some companies might elect to cut these costs by doing “In house training” Good companies require their pilots to attend a week of flight training at one of the well know training centers. Look for training at Flight Safety or Simu Flight.
What is the cost of the flight?
Simply put-everyone wants what they feel is a “bargain.” When you choose an air ambulance simply based on price-you may not get what you bargained for. Beware of those prices that are thousands of dollars lower than anyone else’s. They may tell you they are providing you with a “backhaul.” Or are they really? Some companies cut corners in the areas of maintenance, education and training in order to sell you a deeply discounted flight-but you will never know. Rather, look at ALL the factors before choosing an air ambulance provider just based on cost.