Air Ambulance Emergencies: Why They Fly

why do air ambulances come out

Air ambulances are used for a variety of patient needs. They are often associated with rescue operations, but they are also used for patient transport between specialist centres, or medical repatriation. In the UK, air ambulance services are provided by a mixture of organisations, operating either helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft. Helicopters are typically used for emergency medical functions, while fixed-wing aircraft are used for patient transport. Air ambulances can be particularly useful in rural areas, where they can quickly reach the scene of an incident and transport patients to hospitals. They can also be used to transport organs for transplant patients, and to provide medical care for travellers or those in remote areas.

Characteristics Values
Reasons for Air Ambulance Trauma victims, transplant patients, organ donations, traffic accidents, elderly patients, bedside-to-bedside patients, travellers, rural patients, disaster victims, general travel needs, medical tourism, stranded people, winter sports injuries, cancer patients, patients needing advanced life support, spinal injury victims, burn victims, patients needing medication
How They Are Called Out Working with other emergency services, using technology, and experience to gather information and make a decision on the response
Deployment Criteria Incidents that fall into certain categories, such as major trauma, road traffic collisions, industrial incidents
Response Time On average, it takes 12 minutes from the initial 999 call to the air ambulance landing at the scene
Air Ambulance Services Emergency medical functions, patient transport between specialist centres, medical repatriation


Trauma victims

Air ambulances are often used to respond to trauma victims, providing pre-hospital, emergency, and critical care. Trauma victims who are in remote or rural areas can benefit from air ambulances as they can reach them faster than ground ambulances. Air ambulances can also provide a higher level of care at the scene of a trauma and faster transport to a trauma centre. They are particularly useful in time-sensitive situations, such as head injuries, where quick medical attention is crucial.

Air ambulances are equipped with advanced life support equipment, including medications, ventilators, ECGs, monitoring units, CPR equipment, and stretchers. This enables medical professionals to provide critical care to trauma patients during transport. The speed and mobility of air ambulances make them ideal for responding to emergencies in sparsely populated or difficult-to-reach areas.

In addition, air ambulances can be used to transport trauma patients between specialist centres or for medical repatriation. They can also assist in disaster response, such as hurricane rescue and recovery operations. The use of helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft ensures that patients receive the fastest and most appropriate care, regardless of their location.

However, it is important to consider the cost-effectiveness of air ambulances. In some cases, deploying an air ambulance to a patient close to a hospital may add delay and increase costs without providing significant benefits over ground ambulances. Therefore, the decision to dispatch an air ambulance should be based on the patient's condition, the distance to the hospital, and the availability of alternative transportation options.


Transplant patients

Air ambulances are often used for transplant patients who are unable to travel long distances for surgery. They can also be used to transport donated organs, ensuring they remain safe and viable for the operation.

For transplant patients, it is recommended to contact an air ambulance service as soon as a patient is placed on the waiting list for a transplant. This way, all the necessary information can be kept on file, and the air ambulance company can be prepared for a quick response when the organ becomes available. It is important to have a packed suitcase ready and to discuss the pickup location and test the route ahead of time. Funding should also be in place, as air ambulance transport can be expensive.

While air ambulances are equipped with medical equipment and personnel, this is not always necessary for transplant patients. A local private service or charter company may be a more cost-effective option for patients who do not require medical care en route to the hospital. Charity organizations also exist that can provide free transportation for medical treatment.

Air ambulances offer a swift response and can access remote or hard-to-reach areas, making them a vital option for transplant patients who need to get to the hospital quickly.


Traffic accidents

Air ambulances are also advantageous in situations where the accident occurs in an area that is inaccessible or difficult to reach by road, such as wooded areas or mountainous terrain. In these cases, air ambulances can provide quicker response times and ensure that patients receive the necessary medical care as soon as possible.

The speed and accessibility offered by air ambulances can be crucial in improving patient outcomes, especially in the case of major trauma injuries. The "golden hour" theory suggests that major trauma patients should be transported to a specialist trauma center as quickly as possible. Air ambulances can provide both a higher level of care at the scene and faster transport to the hospital, potentially improving the chances of survival for traffic accident victims.

However, it is important to note that air ambulance transport is not always the best option. In some cases, ground ambulances may be closer to the scene and can depart immediately, while air ambulances require additional time for preflight routines. Additionally, factors such as weather conditions, landing site availability, and flight routes need to be considered when determining whether an air ambulance is the most suitable choice for a traffic accident.


Elderly patients

Air ambulances are often used for emergency medical functions, patient transport between specialist centres, or medical repatriation. They are particularly useful for reaching patients in remote areas, and for providing quick transport to those in need of urgent care.

Additionally, air ambulances can assist elderly patients who are unable to travel commercially due to the stress and security issues associated with commercial airports. They provide a convenient and comfortable option for those who need to travel more than 250 miles to receive specialised treatment, return home to be near family, or be transported to rehabilitation centres.

When arranging air ambulance transport for elderly patients, it is important to discuss their existing health and mental conditions with the air ambulance provider. This ensures that the medical crew is aware of any specific needs, medications, or mobility aids required during the flight. It is also advisable to choose a reliable air ambulance service that can provide geriatric patients with the necessary safety, comfort, and medical care throughout the journey.

In summary, air ambulances play a crucial role in ensuring that elderly patients can safely and comfortably access the medical care they need, regardless of distance or location. By utilising air transport, elderly individuals can overcome mobility challenges and receive timely treatment, ultimately improving their overall well-being.


Serious injuries

Air ambulances are deployed for a variety of patient needs, often in rescue operations. They are particularly useful for reaching patients in remote areas, where ground ambulances may struggle to gain access. Air ambulances can also be used to transport patients between hospitals or to receive home care. In some cases, air ambulances are used to transport patients who are unable to travel without medical help, including the elderly.

Air ambulances are often used in cases of serious injuries or life-threatening situations. For example, trauma victims who have suffered head injuries in remote areas may require an air ambulance to reach a hospital quickly. In the case of road traffic collisions or industrial incidents, air ambulances can provide rapid response and transport to trauma patients. Air ambulances can also be used to transport patients who have suffered spinal injuries or mobility issues, allowing them to receive specialised care at a specific hospital or rehabilitation centre.

In addition to trauma, air ambulances are used for patients requiring advanced life support, such as those needing breathing assistance. They can also be utilised for organ donations, ensuring that organs are transported safely and quickly to the recipient.

Air ambulances play a crucial role in serving rural communities, providing access to healthcare that might otherwise be difficult to reach. They can navigate challenging terrain and reduce travel time, especially in areas with isolated beaches, rural settlements, and difficult road networks. This was the case with the Cornwall Air Ambulance, which began operating in 1987 and has since completed over 32,000 missions.

The speed and agility of air ambulances make them a vital resource for emergency medical situations, particularly in rural or isolated locations.

Frequently asked questions

Air ambulances are called out for serious injuries or life-threatening situations.

Hospitals, emergency services, and paramedics on the ground can all request an air ambulance.

Air ambulances are often used for major trauma incidents, such as road traffic collisions, industrial incidents, and natural disasters.

Air ambulances can reach remote locations quickly and provide critical care to seriously sick or injured people who may not be able to reach a hospital by road.

Air ambulances are operated by a mix of organisations, including charities, government, and private companies. In the UK, all emergency air ambulance helicopters in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are charity-funded.

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