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The Five Ws of Air Ambulance Flights

Updated: Jun 13

Exterior of air ambulance

Time for a fact! Did you know vehicles were first used to transport injured soldiers during battles dating back to the 11th century? Okay, stop lying, we all know you didn't know that and you're probably sitting there wondering, "why the cool ambulance fact?". Well, we're going to explore the five Ws of air ambulance services and I needed to catch your attention.


Who Uses Air Ambulance Services?

The Association of Air Medical Services estimates that the MedEvac industry completes nearly 150,000 fixed wing aircraft medical patient moves annually. Air ambulance flights provide the ability to transfer patients to and from healthcare facilities when time is of the essence. Insurance providers and the various Veteran Affairs are two industries who often utilize air ambulance charter services for their patients.

Most air ambulances have seating for loved ones to accompany the patient during the medical emergency flight. The number of passengers allowed is determined by the medical needs of the patient, number of medical staff on board, and the type of aircraft. In most cases, one to two passengers are able to accompany the patient.


What Are My Air Ambulance Options?

Like me, I bet you think of helicopters when you think "air ambulance". However, there are many different types of fixed wing aircraft that have been reconfigured as highly advanced medical jets. While not a hospital in the sky, an air ambulance grants the ability to charter a patient, full medical crew, and equipment. These emergency aircraft are specially equipped with an FAA approved stretcher, medical equipment, and specific medications to meet the needs of the patient. Below is just a sample of some air ambulance options.

King Air

  • 1 patient with medical crew and equipment

  • 1,300+ miles non-stop range

Interior of Air Ambulance

Lear 35

  • 1 patient + 1 passenger with medical crew and equipment

  • 2,000+ miles non-stop range

Falcon 50

  • 1 patient + 3 passengers with medical crew and equipment

  • 3,000+ miles non-stop range

Gulfstream G-III

  • 1 patient + 5 passengers with medical crew and equipment

  • 3,500+ miles non-stop range


Where Are These Air Ambulances Kept?

Everywhere. Well, not really, but a strong air charter broker will make sure it appears that way. With hundreds of FAR Part 135 certified air ambulance operators, it's not a matter of where, but a matter of when the patient needs to depart. Some airports may require special permissions, make sure you ask!


When Will Your Air Ambulance Be Available?

How about in an hour from now? No, seriously. Medical emergency flights are often last minute; they're categorized as emergency charters for a reason. The most important thing to remember when calling for your air ambulance quote is the pertinent information they'll need for your emergency flight, such as..

Patient Information

Name, age, weight, diagnosis, level of care required, pain level, etc. This may seem like a lot and be overwhelming for those not familiar with these complex operations. We suggest you call your private air charter broker and ask them about their air ambulance booking procedures.

Pick Up & Drop Off Locations

Medical emergency flights are often arranged with bedside to bedside service, meaning a ground ambulance will transport the patient to and from the airports on both departure and arrival. Make sure you have both hospitals with pick up and drop off locations ready before calling your air charter broker.

Time frame

Does the patient need immediate pick up, or is there a specific time frame for the required departure? Make sure you convey the sense of urgency while scheduling your private medical jet.


Why Air Ambulance?

Your health, your well-being, seeing another day! Whether chartering a patient, flying life saving organs, or even anti-venom, a private air ambulance or medical jet can be the difference between life and death. In times of medical distress, time is of the essence. Traveling overseas or internationally? Ask your insurance provider about their international medical emergency flight coverage.

How much does an air ambulance flight cost?

Alright, we made it through the 5 Ws. Before we call it a day, let's take a look at the costs associated with an air ambulance booking. A medical transfer can be somewhat costly, but there are ways to control the cost. Aircraft positioning is one of the most important factors in pricing an air ambulance. A trusted private air charter broker will source aircraft in close proximity to the patient in order to drive costs down.

The average air ambulance trip costs between $12,000 to $25,000 per emergency flight. Depending on the severity of the medical emergency, the type and number of medical staff required may vary and have an impact on cost.

Keep in mind that air ambulance may not be covered by the patient's healthcare insurance policy. It's important to check with your insurance agent to find out what coverage your policy provides. it's not uncommon for the air ambulance company and insurer to disagree on the cost. That means that the remainder of the bill, which may run in the thousands of dollars, could fall into your lap.

Time is critical in the event of a major medical emergency. Be prepared for a medical emergency and protect yourself by finding out what air ambulance coverage your insurance policy offers.

Click here for more information on air ambulance flights.


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