What are Medical Air Services?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2019
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Medical air services are services offered to patients who need transport by air, ranging from crash victims who need emergency medical transport to a trauma center to patients taking chartered flights to access medical treatment. They are part of a larger family of medical transportation services which provide safe, secure transport for medical patients, along with medical support which keeps those patients stable while they are transported.

One of the classic uses for medical air services is in emergency transport. An air ambulance can get a patient to a medical center very quickly, cutting down on the amount of time a patient spends waiting for advanced intervention. Air ambulances can be used to move patients from remote sites to major hospitals, or to airlift patients from one hospital to another if the first hospital cannot meet the patient's needs or its capacity is exceeded. On the battlefield, air ambulances are critical because they can be used to move patients away from the front lines, and to get patients to advanced treatment on military bases which may be far away from the theater of war.


Air ambulances can be planes or helicopters, with helicopters being common because they are very flexible aircraft. The aircraft is staffed with a flight crew which includes paramedics, doctors, or emergency medical technicians who work to stabilize the patient for transport, and to monitor the patient during flight. They can provide a variety of interventions to keep the patient as stable as possible, handing the patient off to a care team at the hospital once they arrive.

Medical air services can also be used for nonemergency transport, such as a medical evacuation or a simple medical transport. People who are severely injured in foreign countries may opt to charter a flight home for treatment, and people can also charter flights to reach medical clinics for specific treatments. Medical air services may also be used for routine transport of people who require constant medical attention and care.

The cost for using medical air services can be very high, because aircraft are expensive to maintain and run. Some insurance companies cover transport by air as long as patients can demonstrate that there was a genuine need, while others will not. Many companies which offer air transport allow people to buy a membership to the company which will entitle them to medical transport if and when they need it, and some companies provide international coverage through associates so that people can be confident that their membership fees will cover them at home and abroad.



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