FAQ

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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Is the aircraft pressurized?

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.

If I use a broker, how does that affect the price?

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.

If I must pay out-of-pocket for your service, how much will it cost?

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.

Will AirCARE1 work with my insurance company?

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 alleviate as much of the stress as possible by taking care of all of those details.

Will my insurance cover the cost of the flight?

If certain criteria are met, insurance will cover the cost of the flight. An AirCARE1 communication specialist 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 air ambulance providers will tell you insurance will cover the cost of the flight or that 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.

What methods of payment do you accept?

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, AirCARE1 accepts the following:

1. Certified cashier’s check
2. Credit card
3. Wire transfer

When do I pay for the flight?

The flight is paid for in advance, unless other arrangements have been made and confirmed through insurance or other third party payer.

How can I save money on 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 this is called a “backhaul.” Our communication specialist can keep you abreast when these opportunities arise.

Why is it important? The savings on backhaul flights can be significant.

How much does it cost?

Since each flight is individualized, a communication specialist 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.

What is included in the quote?

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, International 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.

How do I get a quote?

Call AirCARE1 at 877-760-7760 or fill out our online Quote Request Form.

How quickly can you provide service?

Our team launches within two hours after we receive proper authorization.

Why is this important? Launching the team in less than two hours can significantly compromise safety as the pilots need time to do a proper pre-flight of the aircraft. Additionally, pilots need to check weather at the sending and receiving locations as well as familiarize themselves with the airports they are flying into. Beware of companies who promise a quick launch

Who can I talk to in order to get my questions answered?

The AirCARE1 communication specialist 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 to their satisfaction. It is our goal to excel at the service we provide to our clients, including all those involved in planning and joining the flight.

What are the steps in the process?

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.

What do I need to do before and after the flight?

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

What arrangements does the company make for the flight?

Every aspect of air ambulance transportation is taken care of by AirCARE1 including:

1. Coordinating all aspects of the flight from the sending to the receiving facilities
2. Medical needs unique to the patient
3. In-flight meals if needed
4. All ground transportation

Why is it important? As a family member or a health care provider, there are many things on your mind during this time. We will provide you with peace of mind as we take care of every detail of the transport all the way up to their safe arrival at the receiving facility.

Does AirCARE1 provide international evacuation service?

AirCARE1 provides evacuations from outside of the United States.

AirCARE1 has years of experience in International repatriations. 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.

Why is it important? It takes in depth knowledge and experience to perform International repatriations to ensure everything goes smoothly. This helps ease the stress for the those trying to evacuate a foreign national.

What special amenities does AirCARE1 provide?

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 with noise cancelling headsets
2. Therapeutic hand massages with aromatherapy
3. In-flight movies

All patients fly in executive quality interiors in a pleasant medical environment.

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.

Where does AirCARE1 fly?

AirCARE1 flies to many cities throughout North America, including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America as well as providing wing to wing transports to countries throughout the world.

What type of services are offered?

AirCARE1 provides:

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

Why is it important? Many other providers offer some or many of these services, but only AirCARE1 offers all of them all the time.

What standards are used by brokers when finding an aircraft, and how does that affect risk?

The broker tries to find the cheapest air ambulance provider 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.

What additional training do pilots dedicated to air ambulances receive, and why does that matter?

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 3000 hours of flying time.

Why is it better to deal directly with an air ambulance company rather than a broker?

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 is not a broker as we own our own aircraft and operate them under our own Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate.

How do I know if I need an air ambulance?

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.

How do I know what type of medical air transportation is needed?

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.

Is the aircraft used for any other purposes besides an air ambulance?

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.

How are patients moved in and out of the aircraft?

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 mattress pad is removed
2. A device (called a clip deck) is placed and secured on the ground ambulance’s stretcher
3. The AirCARE1 stretcher is placed on top of the clip deck and is firmly secured to the ground stretcher
4. The stretcher is taken bedside to the patient’s room accompanied by the medical crew
5. The patient is gently transferred onto the proprietary AirCARE1 4-inch mattress pad where they remain during the flight
6. The patient is taken via ground ambulance to the aircraft
7. The patient is moved to the aircraft door
8. 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
9. 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.
10. Patient is taken to receiving facility and transferred off of stretcher onto a bed

What is the safety record of the company?

Check the safety record of the air ambulance provider. 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.

Is the company licensed in their state as an air ambulance company?

Each air ambulance provider should be licensed in the state in which they do business. AirCARE1 is licensed in the State of New Mexico as well as the state of Arizona

Why is this important? It is important to deal only with licensed air ambulance providers. Each state has a record of licensed air ambulance providers. If you are working with a provider who cannot provide you with their license, you are either working with a non legitimate company or a broker

Does the company have a Medical Director?

Every air ambulance provider should have a medical director. The question is-are they in name only or are they involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Our medical director has over 20 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.

What assurances are there that the aircraft is safe?

The FAA requires every jet aircraft to undergo mandatory inspections. An FAA certified Airframe and Power Plant (A &P) 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 mechanics not only perform routine inspections and maintenance, but do weekly proactive inspections to catch ensure small problems are caught before they turn into bigger problems

Does the air ambulance service carry liability and medical malpractice insurance? Will they give you a copy?

Each air ambulance should carry a minimum of $20 million (we carry $50 million) in aircraft liability insurance and a minimum of $1 million in medical malpractice insurance. AirCARE1 maintains these insurances and copies are available upon request.

Does the air ambulance company hold an Air Carrier Certificate? What is this, and how is it different than a state license?

Each air ambulance company operating for hire must operate under an FAA approved 135 operating certificate. AirCARE1 is operated by Critical Air Response Enterprises LLC-dba AirCARE1 International. We have a stellar safety record with no accidents or incidents.

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.

Is the air ambulance company licensed?

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.

What if there is an emergency in the air?

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.

Does the type of aircraft the patient is flown in matter?

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 might be for turboprops, not jets.

Can pets be flown on the plane with the patient?

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.

How does using a jet without RVSM affect patient care?

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? Some air ambulance companies that have older aircraft (particularly Learjet 24’s and 25’s) did not convert their jets to RVSM due to the time out of service and costs involved. These aircraft may have to fly at lower altitudes in order to stay out of RVSM airspace.

What is RVSM and why should it matter to the patient?

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.

What kind of medical equipment is on board the aircraft?

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. Our aircraft are equipped with sophisticated advanced life support equipment on each and every flight.

Why is it important? It is surprising to find some air ambulance teams only carry minimal equipment onboard the aircraft and are often not prepared with advanced equipment if the patient’s condition deteriorates. All air ambulance aircraft should carry equipment to monitor the patient’s heart rate and rhythm, oxygen saturation, blood pressure as well as pumps, suction and a ventilator on all flights.

What kind of patients do you fly?

Since all AirCARE1 aircrafts 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.

Conditions include:

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:

  • Neonatal patients
  • Pediatric patients
  • Adult patients
How are the medical crew members hired?

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.

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.

What kind of specialized training does the medical team have?

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 In-flight emergency, both related to those likely from the condition of the patient as well as those completely unanticipated. See Medical Crew Training.

Why is it important? Not every nurse, paramedic, or respiratory therapist, even those with ER level experience, is suited to be a flight crewmember. 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 provides rigorous initial training as well as monthly in-depth continuing education.

Is the Medical Director involved with each flight?

The medical director, a Physician , oversees every flight and ensures each flight proceeds smoothly. Our medical director is very active in writing policies and procedures, hiring , training and quality management.

Why is it important? An involved medical director brings a higher standard to the program.

Does the company staff each flight with a nurse and a medic?

Each flight is staffed with an experienced critical care nurse and paramedic or respiratory therapists, along with other specialists as needed including physicians, 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. Some air ambulance companies only provide one medical crewmember.

What is bedside-to-bedside service?

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.

How does the patient get transported to and from the plane, and who coordinates it?

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 ground ambulance services.

Why is it important? AirCARE1 communication specialists 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.

Can family members fly with the patient? Who and how many?

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 does 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. Most other companies only allow one or no additional passengers.

Who is on the flight?

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 an airline transport pilot (ATP) rating, which is the highest FAA pilot certification and receive annual recurrent simulator training. Our pilots have minimum of 3000 hours-which is above industry standards. 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 either ICU, CCU, ER, and a nationally registered critical care paramedic or registered respiratory therapist. They also receive intensive 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 having staffing levels and experience less than these could compromise patient care in an emergency.