FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – F.A.Q.
What is “Air Ambulance”?
Much like a van is transformed into a ground ambulance, aircraft are converted into Flying Intensive Care Units for air ambulance use. Air Ambulance refers to both Rotor Wing (Helicopters) and Fixed Wing (Airplanes). Fixed Wing Air Ambulance is used to transport patients from one facility to another when the distance or time period would be impractical for transport by ground ambulance. Although both Helicopters and Fixed-Wing aircraft are suitable for air ambulance use, fixed-wing aircraft is more cost effective at distances over 80 miles. Both turbo-prop and jet aircraft are used and operate at distances ranging 75 miles to 10,000 miles.
Who regulates Air Ambulance Operations?
Air Ambulance combines AVIATION and MEDICINE, two of the most regulated industries in the World.
The FAA regulates the operation of the aircraft, qualifications and responsibilities of the pilots and non-medical equipment. The most stringent requirements of all FAA regulations must be met in order for the FAA to issues a “Part 135 Certificate with Air Ambulance Specifications”. (Request a copy!) Jet Logistics, Inc. professionally manages and operates all Life Guard International-Flying ICU owned aircraft.
The local Health Department regulates medical aspects of an Air Ambulance including medical personnel licensing, level of care, equipment, and minimum requirements for the on board medications. The Department of Health than issues an “Air Ambulance License / Permit”. (Request a copy!)
Note: NOT all states regulate air ambulance operations. Although not required in all states, the legislative trend is to regulate the air ambulance operators to minimize the presence of capricious fly-by-night air ambulance services.
What is CAMTS? What is the accreditation process?
CAMTS is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality and safety of medical transport services. To receive accreditation, a medical transport service must voluntarily apply and prove to the CAMTS Board that they are in significant compliance with the CAMTS accreditation standards and demonstrate a high level of overall quality in service. By participating in the voluntary accreditation process, service organizations can verify their adherence to quality accreditation standards to themselves, their peers, medical professionals and the general public.
The accreditation process begins with an application form. The form indicates the program’s intentions to complete the process and services as a request for the Program Information Form (PIF). The PIF is a rather extensive documented self-evaluation of the program, based on the CAMTS Standards. Response to the PIF requires copies of documentation of some process and policies as well as a series of questions asking the program to verify that it adheres to each of the CAMTS Standards.
Once the PIF is complete and returned to the CAMTS office, it is reviewed by the CAMTS staff for completeness and sent to two Board members for “pre-review”. The staff and two Board members complete a “workbook” with questions and suggestions for the site surveyors that will be assigned to the on-site visit. Two site surveyors are then appointed, based on their experience and background related to the type of program (air/ground; fixed/rotor; ALS/Specialty Care, etc.) and any concerns noted by the two Board members.
The site visit is then scheduled at a time agreeable to both the program and site surveyors. Once onsite the surveyors will conduct a series of interviews of the program personnel, look at training records, quality improvement programs, safety policies, etc. Their comments and observations are then added to the workbook, paying particular attention to the questions raised as part of the pre-review.
The completed workbook is then returned to the original two Board members for post-review and presentation of the facts and their recommendations for an accreditation action to the full Board. Only the two Board members giving the presentation know the name or location of the program.
WHO has ultimate responsibility for the patient DURING the transport?
According to EMTALA*, the SENDING PHYSICIAN / SENDING FACILITY is ultimately responsible for the patient until patient arrives at the receiving facility. The Air Ambulance Provider and its Medical Director assume the role as a SAFETY NET for the Transferring MD.
DISCHARGE PLANNERS: Limit your Liability by ensuring your patient will be cared for by qualified health care professionals in a safety-conscious environment. Confirm that the air ambulance service you utilize is indeed licensed, and meets standards imposed by your local Health Department. Request copies of both the FAA 135 Certificate and the Air Ambulance Health Department issued Permit.
(*EMTALA = Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act; a federal statutory-regulatory complex.)
What is a “seamless bedside-to-bedside transfer?”
A complete transfer process (“bed-side to bed-side”) includes a ground component (transport between the medical facilities, and each airport) and the air component (the air ambulance flight itself). Flying ICU fully coordinates both ground and air portions of the transport. Flying ICU’s initial arrangements, confirmations, and last minute updates are vital details which are crucial for a smooth, efficient, seamless facility to facility medical transfer.
What is involved in a typical air ambulance transport?
Once we determine inter facility patient transport is necessary, the referring facility must approve the appropriate transport vehicle: ground, helicopter or fixed wing. The receiving facility is notified and communication between the referring and accepting physician is established. The patient’s physical and psychological condition is assessed with consideration of the stressors involved during the air ambulance transport. A plan of care is developed and the patient’s condition is stabilized with the cooperative involvement of the transport team and physicians involved in the patient’s care.
During transport, continuous assessment and appropriate medical care is provided to keep the patient stable and comfortable. Upon arrival, the air medical crew accompanies the patient to the destination facility and provides the receiving medical providers with a full patient report.
The transport team then notifies the patient’s family and the referring facility of their safe arrival at the destination facility.
What does “CCT or Critical Care Transport Level at all times” imply?
Exposure to environmental factors unique to air transport can increase the stressors of an illness or injury. Flying ICU operates at the critical care level for all patient transports ensuring the highest level of preparedness for any unforeseen in-flight changes the patient’s condition.
Throughout the transport, our CCT Team operates under standing orders (Medical Protocols), and is trained and prepared to deal with unforeseen scenarios. Our flight crew is trained to act rapidly and efficiently within the confines of the air ambulance working environment to effectively maintain patient’s condition and status.
Can Family Members/ companion accompany patient?
Depending on the patient’s medical condition and aircraft capacity, family member(s) may travel with the patient, at no additional cost. Each request is assessed individually. Luggage may be limited in multiple passenger transports. By request, and at additional cost, aircraft upgrades are available to accommodate additional passengers.
How far can Flying ICU transport patients?
Flights can be local/regional, nationwide, or international in nature. Example of common short distance air medical transport Flying ICU performs: from Bullhead City, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada; a distance of approximately 90 miles. Example of recent international air medical transport completed by Flying ICU: from Montreal, Canada to Iasi, Romania.
What methods of payment does Flying ICU accept?
For most transports, Flying ICU accepts post-flight reimbursement from various insurance companies, pending insurance verification of benefits and authorization, based on our contractual agreements and/or pre-authorized air ambulance transport approvals.
For self-pay transports, Flying ICU accepts bank wire transfers, money orders, certified checks, or credit card payments, as well as personal checks once sufficient funds on account are verified.