An air ambulance is an aircraft used for emergency medical assistance in situations where either a traditional ambulance cannot easily or quickly reach the scene or the patient needs to be repositioned at a distance where air transportation is most practical. Air ambulance crews are supplied with equipment that enables them to provide medical treatment to a critically injured or ill patient. Common equipment for air ambulances includes respirators, medication, an ECG and monitoring unit, CPR equipment, and stretchers.
Ambulance crew and passengers Edit
The medical crew of an air ambulance varies depending on country, area, service provider and by type of air ambulance, but in most schemes may consist of one or more members of ambulance crew, such as an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic, sometimes a flight nurse, or in some cases, a physician.
Air ambulance pilots are required to have a great deal of experience in piloting their aircraft because the conditions of air ambulance flights are often more challenging than regular non-emergency flight services. After a spike in air ambulance crashes in the United States in the 1990s, the US government and CAMTS have stepped up the accreditation and air ambulance flight requirements, ensuring that all pilots, personnel, and physical aircraft meet much higher standards than what was previously required.
Depending on the equipment, crew composition, and condition of the patient, there is sometimes room for one or more passengers. Space in most air ambulances is very limited, so friends and family often must follow the air ambulance by other means.
- 1914–1918 - Early air ambulances were first tested by various military organizations.
- 1928 - The first air ambulance service was established in the Australian outback. This organization became the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
- 1934 - The first civil air ambulance service in Africa was established in Morocco by Marie Marvingt.
- 1936 - A military air ambulance service evacuated wounded from the Spanish Civil War for treatment in Nazi Germany.
- 1946 - The first civilian air ambulance in North America was established by the Saskatchewan government in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada - this service is still in operation in 2007.
- 1947 - Schaefer Air Service, the first air ambulance service in the United States, was founded by J. Walter Schaefer of Schaefer Ambulance Service in Los Angeles, California. Schaefer Air Service was also the first FAA-certified air ambulance service in the U.S.
- 1970 - On November 1 the first permanent civil german air ambulance helicopter Christoph 1 entered service at the Hospital of Harlaching, Munich. The apparent success led to a quick expansion of the concept over Germany, with Christoph 10 entering service in 1975, Christoph 20 in 1981 and Christoph 51 in 1989. As of 2007 there are about 80 helicopters named after Saint Christopher, like Christoph Europa 5 (also serving Denmark), Christoph Brandenburg or Christoph Murnau. Austria adopted the German system in 1983 when Christophorus 1 entered service at Innsbruck.
- 1969 - Two programs were implemented in the U.S. to assess the impact of medical helicopters on mortality and morbidity in the civilian arena. Project CARESOM was established in Mississippi in 1969. Three helicopterw were purchased through a federal grant and located strategically in north, central and southern areas of the state. Upon termination of the grant the program was considered a success and each of the three communities was given the opportunity to continue the helicopter operation. Only the one located in Hattiesburg did so, thereby establishing he first civilian air medical program in the U.S.
The second program, the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST)system, was established in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in 1969. This was an experiment by the Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of using military helicopters to augment existing civilian emergency medical services.
- 1972 - Flight For Life Colorado began in 1972 with a single Alouette III helicopter, based at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colorado. It was the first civilian, hospital-based medical helicopter program in the U.S.
- 1977 - Ontario Canada: Flight Paramedic program began in 1977 with a single rotor-wing aircraft based in Toronto. Today, with 33 aircraft stationed at 26 bases across the province, Ornge operates the largest and most sophisticated program of aero-medical transport in North America. Over 17,000 admissions are dispatched annually making Ornge North America's largest operator in the field of transport medicine.
- 2005 - Air Ambulance crashes, mostly involving helicopters, reach a record high. Crash rates from 2000-2005 more than doubled the previous five year's rates.
- 2006 - The NTSB deems that many air ambulances crashes were avoidable, eventually leading to the improvement of government standards and CAMTS accreditation.
In the United Kingdom the service operates in two distinct manners. In Scotland the national parliament agreed to the state funding of the service however in England and Wales the service is funded on a charitable basis via a number of local charities for each region covered. A website listing UK air ambulance charities.
In the United States publicly owned air ambulance service is provided by the United States Coast Guard and other agencies in certain areas, usually at no direct cost to the individual; public air ambulance transport is usually by helicopter and involves shorter distances than privately owned air ambulance jets.
Notable air ambulance servicesEdit
- The Royal Flying Doctor Service, the first and longest running air ambulance service, founded in 1928, servicing remote outback communities in Australia's interior.
- AirMédic Air Ambulance - AirMédic Ambulance Aérienne (Quebec) A non-profit foundation that provides essential air ambulance service in Quebec. 
- Ornge (Ontario Air Ambulance) - Operates 33 aircraft stationed at 26 bases across the province of Ontario.
- STARS - An Alberta non-profit air ambulance service serving more populated areas. Its funding is provided by donations from the public and corporations.
- ADAC - Germany's largest automobile club with a fleet of 38 air rescue helicopters.
- The German Federal Ministry of the Interior - 16 helicopters.
- Bundespolizei - The German federal police, providing the pilots for these helicopters.
- SMURD - Key air ambulance operator in Eastern Europe with international air medical transport capabilities.
- Mayoral Executive Jet - An air ambulance service in Spain, that operates in Africa and Europe.
- Rega - A non-profit air ambulance service in Switzerland. First operator of a civilian jet ambulance.
- United States
- Air Methods - Largest air ambulance operator, with a fleet of more than 216 aircraft operating in 35 states
- ARCH Air Medical Service - Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas- Operates 11 rotor-wing aircraft and 2 King Air fixed-wing aircraft
- Flight for Life
- Life Flight
- Stat Medevac - Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and New York- over 20 helicopters
- Golden hour (medicine)
- Emergency medical service
- Air Ambulances in the United Kingdom
- International SOS, Provider of air ambulance evacuation & repatriation services
- Safety of emergency medical services flights
- Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems
- ↑ "Reconsidering air ambulance usage" USA Today, 18 July 2005. Retrieved: 12 November 2007.
- ↑ "Surge in crashes scars air ambulance industry." USA Today, 17 July 2005. Retrieved: 12 November 2007.
- ↑ "Official NTSB report on an air ambulance Learjet crash in San Diego, California which killed everyone on board, amounting to five deaths." NTSB Publication, 24 October 2004. Retrieved: 12 November 2007.
- ↑ "NTSB: Air ambulance crashes avoidable." USA Today, 25 January 2006. Retrieved: 12 November 2007.
- ↑ AirMédic Ambulance Aérienne
- Association of Air Medical Services
- Air ambulances in Germany
- UK Air Ambulance Information & Operational Info + Gallery
- U.S. State Department information on U.S. based air ambulance and medevac companies
- "Lifeguard" flight tracker
- AviationListing.NET - 200+ Worldwide Air Medical Servicesda:Redningshelikopter