In a medical emergency the provision of a high level of medical care becomes critical. The fast and timely movement of patients to hospital or from one medical facility to another can be of critical importance.
Sometimes the medical emergency can occur far from any hospital. Sometimes the distance between hospitals, where a patient needs an emergency operation at a better equipped hospital, may be far. That is when the services of an emergency air rescue service that provides an airborne ambulance become vital.
There are people who owe their lives to having been transported to hospital quickly in a well-equipped air ambulance cared for by a doctor and flight nurses with intensive care training and experience.
They may have been attacked by a wild animal in a game park or had an accident while on holiday in a remote part of the country or in a far country.
They may have had a heart attack and been admitted to a local hospital but be in need of an urgent heart operation that cannot be performed in that country and be in too poor a condition to fly back to the UK for the operation on a regular flight.
It should come as a relief to know that the UK has a dedicated air ambulance, operated by Heathrow Air Ambulance Service, which can land on short runways of all types – tarmac, gravel or even grass.
The air ambulance is equipped as an intensive care unit. The crew includes a doctor and flight nurse, both of whom have advanced cardiovascular life support and intensive care training and experience.
Their dedicated air ambulance is an aircraft equipped as an air ambulance that is used exclusively for medical emergencies.
International insurance companies insist on the use of a dedicated air ambulance for medical evacuations that they cover.
The UK is well placed geographically to transport patients in need of emergency medical treatment from countries and to the US which is where many are taken for emergency operations.
The cabin of the Heathrow Air Ambulance Service dedicated air ambulance is pressurised, which is an important factor when evacuating critically ill patients, especially those with head, chest or traumatic injuries.
Like ground ambulances, the aircraft is equipped with medical equipment vital for monitoring and treating injured or ill patients.
It has been fitted with state-of-the-art intensive care facilities, including what is probably the most modern defibrillator in the country, capable of being used not only to provide an electrical impulse to restart a stopped heart but to slow down or speed up the heart rate and check blood pressure and temperature.
The installed lifepoart includes piping for oxygen and suction. The ventilator in the air ambulance can be used to keep both adult and child patients breathing.
The equipment is portable. Most of it can continue working for up to four hours without needing the battery to be recharged. This makes it possible to use some of it outside the aircraft while transporting a patient from the aircraft to hospital.
The aircraft can take two stretchers but will normally only be fitted with one, since in most cases it is a single patient who requires emergency evacuation.
VHF or satellite radios and mobile phones with roaming facilities enable the air ambulance crew to communicate with ground staff and the hospital to which the patient is being taken.
On landing, the patient is transferred to a waiting ambulance vehicle. The doctor and flight nurse who have been with the patient on the flight accompany him or her in the ambulance to the hospital.
The fuel efficient aircraft can fly at up to 480 kilometres per hour for up to six hours without refuelling. It can fly above the weather at an altitude of up to 29 000 feet above sea level. After every flight the interior of the air ambulance is disinfected and the linen changed.
Emergency air ambulance services are among the benefits of a number of packages offered by various medical aid societies. Heathrow Air Ambulance Service provides this benefit for members who are on private hospital and medical insurance packages.
The crucial elements that an air ambulance service needs to provide are a high level of expert patient care, the equipment and medication necessary for a patient in a critical condition and an aircraft that is pressurised, can fly above the weather and can land and take off on any type of short runway.
All of these elements are important, which is why the company has acquired advanced lear jet aircraft for its dedicated air ambulance, equipped it with the latest intensive care equipment and resuscitation drugs, provided good communications equipment for both air-to-ground and ground-to-ground communication, and hired doctors and nurses with both training and experience in advanced cardiovascular life support and intensive care.
Most people will never need medical air rescue. However, nobody knows whether they will need it and, if they do, when that will be. When they do need it they really will need it and need it fast.
Read more about HAA in Heathrow Air Ambulance Service Improves Its Private Ambulance Services