Below is a list of comprehensive questions about air ambulance service categorized by the five critical areas. We want to make sure all your questions are answered.
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Quality of Patient Care
The flight is staffed with two highly experienced pilots: a captain and a first officer, just like on a commercial airline flight. They each have the highest FAA pilot certification and recurrent simulator training. We never use one pilot, as is used on some air ambulance flights.
At least two medical crew members consisting of an experienced critical care nurse with a background in ICU, CCU, ER, and a nationally registered paramedic. They also have additional training in flight physiology.
Other medical specialists will be on the flight as necessary for the particular medical needs of the patient.
Why is it important? At AirCARE1™ we believe that having staffing levels less than these could compromise patient care in an emergency.
One or two traveling companions may accompany the patient at no additional charge. This is not a requirement, but is encouraged whenever practical. The only exception would be if the patient's specific medical condition did not allow additional passengers.
Why is it important? The patient's stress level is greatly reduced by having someone they know accompany them during a flight.
The patient is transported to and from the aircraft via ground ambulance, accompanied bedside-to-bedside by the AirCARE1™ medical flight crew. AirCARE1™ coordinates all ground transportation, including handling all the payment details for the different ambulance services.
Why is it important? AirCARE1™ flight coordinators are trained in handling all these details so the complete transition is as smooth as possible, including all payment details. There should be no need to involve anyone else in the ground transportation legs.
Bedside-to-bedside service begins when the AirCARE1™ flight team arrives at the departing medical facility, along with the ground ambulance crew, to pick up the patient. The flight crew will remain with the patient during the entire transport, including accompanying them to the receiving medical facility. They will use our proprietary LifePort stretcher system to monitor the patients vital signs during the entire process, and have that data available for the physician at the destination facility.
Why is it important? When the AirCARE1™ medical team enters the patient's room, they accept total responsibility for the patient until the patient safely reaches the destination facility. This allows for a smooth and seamless transition from facility to facility. Often other air ambulance companies transfer care to the ground ambulance crew and do not accompany the patient to the destination facility. This lack of communication with the receiving medical staff could impact the patient's care.
Each flight is staffed with an experienced critical care nurse and paramedic, along with other specialists as needed — including doctors, respiratory therapists, perfusionists, and specialty teams.
Why is it important? A nurse and paramedic, especially those cross-trained in flight physiology, form a complementary flight team each bringing a unique set of skills for patient care.
The medical director, a doctor, oversees every flight and ensures each flight proceeds smoothly. Our medical director speaks fluent Spanish and is able to interface with facilities outside of the country.
Why is it important? Additional medical skills from the doctor deliver the best possible care.
AirCARE1™ medical crew members receive specific training beyond that normally available to critical care providers. The medical crew has specific knowledge of flight physiology and the impact flight stressors have on the patient. They are also trained to handle any inflight emergency, both related to those likely from the condition of the patient, and those that are completely unanticipated. See Medical Crew Training.
Why is it important? Not every nurse or paramedic, even those with ER level experience, is suited to be a flight nurse. Many other air ambulance companies do not require customized training for specific aircraft, but rely on the training and skills the medical crew members receive on their own. AirCare1™ trains to internally developed standards.
To ensure quality patient care, each crew member is hired based on specific skill sets: good communication skills, flexibility, the ability to think quickly on their feet, adaptation, innovation, and a critical care background. Each crew member has undergone a stringent interview process, including both reference and background checks. No ads are placed in the paper as hiring is by referral only. Our turnover is low.
Why is it important? Due to the nature of flying, it is important to have only the best and most qualified personnel on board to ensure the highest quality of patient care and safety. Turnover is low because each employee is part of the AirCARE1™ team and shares in the success of the company through bonuses and profit sharing. They have a personal stake in the company. AirCARE1™ is only air ambulance company that provides this type of program.
Since all AirCARE1™ aircraft are equipped as Airborne Critical Care Units, we are able to fly patients with a wide variety of medical conditions. Some patients require only minor medical monitoring all the way to patients who are critically ill and in need of specialty care.
The general criteria for flying a patient is a doctor's recommendation that the patient should not travel by a commercial carrier.
1. Trauma patients
2. Respiratory patients on ventilators
3. Cardiac patients on balloon pumps (IABP)
4. Neurological patients with head injuries requiring intra cranial monitoring
5. Patients with multiple IV drips
6. We fly hospital specialty teams including:
2. Transplant teams
3. OB teams
A medical crew is only as good as the quality of the equipment provided to them. The equipment allows us to have the same quality of care the patient would receive in an critical care unit at a top-notch hospital. See our complete list of medical equipment.
Why is it important? It is surprising to realize some air ambulance teams have minimal equipment onboard the aircraft, often because the jet is also used for other charter purposes, and they can't permanently install a full range of infrequently used but critical systems.
RVSM is an abbreviation for Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum. This modification to each jet in service has been required by the FAA since January 2005, if a pilot wants to fly above 29,000 feet. Many Lear jet owners have decided not to make this modification. Without this modification, jets must fly at lower altitudes.
Why is it important? Flying at lower altitudes requires additional fuel stops, longer transit times and flying in more turbulent weather, affecting the patient's safety and comfort.
Flying in a jet without RVSM can potentially decrease the patient's safety and comfort with increased fuel stops, longer flying times, and more turbulent weather, affecting the quality of care the patient may experience.
Why is it important? Many air ambulance companies have not converted their jets to RVSM due to the time out of service and costs involved.
Many individuals have small pets they take to second homes where they live for months at a time. Many of these are out of the country, or in warm weather resort destinations. When they need urgent medical care, they don't want to leave their pet behind.
As part of our commitment to overall patient well being, small pets in cages can be flown in the aircraft depending on space available .
Why is it important? The patient's stress level is greatly reduced when they are allowed to bring their small pet(s) on the flight with them.
Patients being flown at distances of greater than 500 miles should be flown in jets. Anything over 500 miles increases the time dramatically, due to fuel stops, possible crew changes, and the stress on the patient. Patients should also be flown in jets when speed is of the utmost importance. See Aircraft Comparison Chart
Why is it important? It is important that the patient be flown in the type of aircraft best suited for the mission. Be sure to find out what type of aircraft the patient will be flown on. Some lower quotes will be for turboprops, not jets.
All AirCARE1™ aircraft are equipped to be Airborne Critical Care Units and are equipped the same as any ICU/CCU at premier hospitals.
Why is it important? Because it is not possible to predict what medical needs could arise, it is best for patient safety to be prepared for any possible emergency, or need for advanced life support.
It is important for every air ambulance company to be licensed in the state they operate out of and any other states that require licensure.
The license information should be easily seen inside the aircraft, and a copy should be included in paperwork you receive with the quote.
Why is it important? Some carriers have let their licenses lapse, and this reduces their accountability to you — the consumer.
Each air ambulance company operating for hire must be on what is known as an FAA approved 135 operating certificate. AirCARE1™ is operated by Crow Executive Air. They have been in operations for over 57 years and have been accident and incident free during those 57 years.
Why is it important? Experience and professionalism applies not just to the medical staff, but also the flight crew and the aircraft. The FAA has recently begun a stiffer enforcement of their regulations, and some carriers have had their FAA 135 certificates suspended.
Each air ambulance should carry a minimum of $20 million in aircraft liability insurance and a minimum of $1 million in medical malpractice insurance. AirCARE1™ maintains these levels of insurance and copies are provided with each packet of materials for every flight.
Why is it important? Anyone chartering an air ambulance should NOT have to request this information. It is not required that this be provided to you, but AirCare1™ believes it is professional to demonstrate we have our insurance inforce to every client.
The FAA requires every jet aircraft to undergo mandatory inspections. An FAA certified Airframe and Power Plant mechanic is required to perform these inspections.
Why is it important? There are some companies that do only the minimum required by the FAA. At AirCare1™ our relationship with Crow Executvie Air means we have immediate access to FAA-qualified mechanics and inspectors, and we routinely schedule more than the minimum required inspections.
While it is not a requirement, each air ambulance company should have a medical director involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Our medical director has over 21 years of emergency medicine experience and oversees our day-to-day operations.
Why is it important? This assures our patients are under the oversight of a Medical Doctor, as well as the hands-on care of a nurse and paramedic. This additional commitment to patient care is an example of how AirCARE1™ is different than other air ambulance companies.
All AirCARE1™ aircraft are FAA registered and maintain FAA compliance.
Why is it important? This has been the ongoing policy of Crow Executive Air during the history of the company, and gives you the assurance of FAA compliance of our Lear 35As.
Each air ambulance provider should be licensed in the state in which they do business. AirCARE1™ is licensed in the State of New Mexico.
Why is it important? While this is not a requirement, it gives the patients and their insurance companies the assurance we are a professional business that "has roots" and we are not going to move where we can't easily be contacted.
Jets are pressurized aircraft. It is safest for the patient being transported over long distances to fly in a pressurized cabin. Many patient conditions require pressurization. Small Turboprops may not have pressurized cabins, but all AirCARE1™ aircraft have pressurized cabins.
Why is it important? The only experience most of us, including almost all patients, have is with pressurized jets on commercial airlines. If a patient is in an unpressurized aircraft, the very noticeable changes in air pressure, as well as oxygen content, could destabilize their condition, and lead to discomfort and increased stress. Never agree to an unpressurized aircraft.
Ask the air ambulance provider if they have had any accidents or incidents in the past and what was the cause. It is important to ask about every incident they have noted in their files.
Why is it important? Outstanding flight operations like at Crow Executive Air have an unblemished record of safety, and in Crow's case it has been over a 57-year period. Don't take a chance with anything less.
Often the most stressful time for the patient during the entire air ambulance process is getting in and out of the aircraft. Many air ambulance companies load the patient by using a couple of hopefully strong people to maneuver the patient into the aircraft.
AirCARE1™ has solved this stressful problem by using a unique mechanical transfer system which alleviates the stress during this process.
Here is the step-by-step process:
1. The ground ambulance's mattress pad is removed
2. A device is placed on the ground ambulance's stretcher unit to secure this stretcher during the patient transfer
3. The AirCARE1™ stretcher is firmly secured to the ground stretcher
4. The patient is gently transferred onto the proprietary AirCARE1™ 4-inch mattress pad where they remain during the flight
5. The patient is moved to the aircraft door
6. The patient's stretcher is gently and automatically lifted into aircraft through a 36-inch wide door via a mechanical loading ramp and is then secured to the LifePort patient care system inside aircraft
7. At the destination airport, the patient is carefully and safely moved from the aircraft via the same mechanical loading ramp and onto ground ambulance stretcher unit.
8. Patient is taken to receiving facility and transferred off of stretcher onto a bed.
Why is it important? Using the unique AirCARE1™ mechanical transfer system to move the patient in and out of the aircraft alleviates the patient's stress and fear of being dropped.
AirCARE1™ aircraft are dedicated Airborne Critical Care Units, and are never used for any other charter purposes.
Why is it important? It is safer and better for patient care to use a company who exclusively does air ambulance flights day in and day out. There are many aircraft charter operators who will occasionally fly air ambulance flights, as an added revenue stream, in aircraft not dedicated for air ambulance operations. AirCARE1™ is a dedicated air ambulance provider.
An AirCARE1™ flight coordinator will help you determine the level of service you need.
1. Basic Life Support (BLS) - usually a patient that has minor medical needs, including oxygen and maybe has intravenous access. This patient is extremely stable, but may be medically compromised enough to need air ambulance transportation.
2. Advanced Life Support (ALS) - the patient's condition warrants a higher level of care due to continuous monitoring, IV access, and infusions. This patient is usually in a stable condition.
3. Critical Care/Specialty Care - a patient requiring continuous care, monitoring, and medication, including continuous multiple drug infusions, ventilation, invasive monitoring due to acuity, instability or complex care requirements.
AirCARE1™ handles all of these types of medical air transports.
Why is it important? Since all AirCARE1™ aircraft are Airborne Critical Care Units, we are able to provide transportation for all medical conditions. It is important to make sure you choose the appropriate type of air ambulance for the patient's condition.
AirCARE1™ will help you determine what kind of medical transportation is needed, whether it is ground ambulance, commercial airline escort or a dedicated air ambulance based on the patient's medical condition. We can be a resource to you in obtaining the right type of transportation for the patient.
Why is it important? The patient needs to be transported using the appropriate form of transportation required for their medical condition to ensure their safety and comfort.
A broker is a middle man who does not own aircraft, but arranges air ambulance transportation for the patient and adds an additional fee to the total cost. Brokers are typically looking only for the lowest cost, so they can add their mark-up, and they don't have any quality control systems for patient care.
Why is it important? Using a broker can increase the cost significantly for the patient, hospital, or insurance company. By dealing directly with an air ambulance provider, the patient will get the best care and value. You will also know who the specific service provider is and deal directly with them. You will know all the aspects of the patient care they offer.
If a broker is used, you will not be able to deal directly with the air ambulance company providing the service.
AirCARE1™ pilots receive additional training used only by air ambulance operations. This training specifically addresses medical terminology, flight physiology, and how to support the level of care needed by the patient. This training also facilitates seamless communication with the medical personnel on board.
All AirCARE1™ pilots are hired for their extensive flight experience. AirCARE1™ requires pilots to have a minimum of 2000 hours of flying time.
The broker tries to find the cheapest vendor so they can make the most profit possible from the flight. Possible Safety issues: 1. The broker may not fully check out the air ambulance provider 2. Quality of patient care is an unknown quantity 3. Crews may or may not have proper training 4. Brokers deal with the most discounted air ambulance providers to enhance their own profitability, not patient care.
Why is it important? The broker is a business person, not a medical provider. They don't have the experience to understand the differences between air ambulance companies, and they don't fully understand the medical needs of each specific patient.
1. 24-hour dispatch
2. Bedside-to-bedside care
3. Arrangement of all ground transportation
4. Coordination with the insurance company
5. Help in finding a room at the receiving facility
6. A post flight follow-up
7. Advice on air transportation — whether you use our service or not
8. International services
9. Medical crew members that speak multiple languages
Why is it important? Many other providers offer some or many of these services, but only AirCARE1™ offers all of them — all the time.
AirCARE1™ flies to all cities throughout North America, including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.
AirCARE1™ provides a holistic approach to patient care. We take care of the physical as well as the emotional needs of the patient and family members by providing:
1. Therapeutic music
2. Therapeutic hand massages with aromatherapy
3. Inflight movies
4. Inflight reading materials
All AirCARE1™ aircraft have executive quality interiors.
Why is it important? Studies reveal using therapeutic music reduces the stress levels in patients and decreases need for sedation. We have found that the patient's stress is reduced when the patient is flown in a pleasant medical environment.
AirCARE1™ provides evacuations from outside of the United States.
AirCARE1™ has experience in Mexico and other foreign countries. Our personnel speak multiple foreign languages. AirCARE1™ also provides evacuation for immigrants in the US who need to be transported back to their home countries — especially to Mexico.
Our medical director has the capability to interface directly with medical personnel in Mexico to help ease the transition and has also flown on international flights to help with the process.
Why is it important? This helps ease the stress for the personal trying to evacuate a foreign national.
Every aspect of air ambulance transportation is taken care of by AirCARE1™ including:
1. Coordinating the flight from the sending and receiving facilities
2. Inflight catering meals if needed
3. Medical needs unique to the patient
4. All ground transportation
Why is it important? As a family member or a medical provider, you are concerned about the condition of the patient at the current facility. We want to make sure any and every detail concerning the patient is completely taken care of all the way up to their safe arrival at the receiving facility.
Here is what we recommend you do:
1. Call AirCARE1™ for flight arrangements
2. Have all necessary information available. See our Service Guide.
3. AirCARE1™ will make all necessary arrangements while keeping you fully informed, complete with a report back to the sending facility at the conclusion of the flight
We have created a Service Guide that lists all the steps to help you understand the process.
Why is it important? We have found that the more everyone involved in the process understands, the less stress they feel.
The AirCARE1™ flight coordinator is on hand 24/7 to answer all of your questions before, during, and after the flight. We will follow up after the flight to make sure your flight met all of your expectations. Feel free to call us any time at 877-760-7760 or send us an e-mail.
Why is it important? Too often the people making the plans don't get the answers to their questions fast enough. It is our goal to excel at the service we provide to our clients, including all those involved in planning and joining the flight.
Our team launches within 90 minutes after we receive proper authorization.
Call AirCARE1™ at 877-760-7760 or fill out our online Quote Request Form.
All costs are included in our AirCARE1™ quote:
1. Aircraft cost
2. Medical crew
3. Ground transportation on both ends
4. Miscellaneous fees — including landing fees, foreign fees, etc.
Why is it important? You should demand a guarantee that the price quoted before the flight will the exact price you will pay after the flight is concluded.
Since each flight is individualized, a flight coordinator will go over the cost of the flight with you.
Why is it important? Cookie cutter quotes can result in unpleasant surprises after the flight.
If you are able to wait, there are opportunities that a flight can be done in conjunction with another flight. In the industry it is called a "backhaul." Our flight coordinators can keep you abreast when these opportunities arise.
Why is it important? The savings on backhaul flights can be significant.
The flight is paid for in advance, unless other arrangements have been made and confirmed through insurance or other third party payer.
In many circumstances insurance policies may pay for a portion or all of the air ambulance flight. In the event insurance does not cover the flight, payment can be made to AirCARE1™ by:
1. Certified cashiers check
2. Credit card
3. Wire transfer
If certain criteria are met, insurance will cover the cost of the flight. An AirCARE1™ flight coordinator will be able to help you determine whether your particular insurance will cover all or a portion of the cost of the flight.
Why is it important? Some firms will tell you the insurance details will be resolved "later," but then send you the bill. You could end up trying to resolve all of the insurance details yourself. Never agree to be the person to deal with the insurance carriers.
Yes, AirCARE1™ will work with the insurance company to help ease the stress of coordinating the flight details.
Why is it important? We understand how stressful the situation can be for everyone involved and we want to allievate as much of the stress as possible by taking care of all of those details.
The cost of our air ambulance service varies depending on the length of the flight. The quote we will give you will have the exact cost of the flight.
Why is it important? We give you all the information you need up front, so there will be no surprises.
Using a broker significantly increases the costs of a flight. If you are unsure whether you are talking to a broker, ask them if they own the aircraft you will be flying on, where the aircraft is based and what the tail number is. AirCARE1™ can help you identify the brokers and determine ownership of the aircraft.
Why is it important? Brokers do not disclose their role, unless you ask them specific questions. Some air ambulance companies will say they have an aircraft, but if they don't give you the tail number of the plane you will be flying on, they might be serving as a broker as well.