AVAILABLE 24/7   US/CANADA: 1-800-524-7633

International: +1-715-479-8881

Air Ambulance Services General Information

The air ambulance industry has existed for almost 100 years now and during that time the services have evolved. Air ambulance services began in the British military in 1917 during World War I. From medevac services offered only in the army, the air ambulance industry has grown to help anyone in need. Today the air ambulance industry serves a number of different patients all over the globe. From fixed-wing helicopters to jet-powered planes, the air ambulance provides great benefits and service to those in need. Learn about everything that goes into the air ambulance service, including logistics, types of patients and other info about the service in this handy guide.

Air Ambulance Types

An air ambulance is an aircraft that is equipped to fly as an intensive care unit. It’s FAA approved and equipped with approved flight stretcher, special medical equipment, plus any medication you may need. The flight crew includes pilots and a medical team that will be able to meet patient needs.

A helicopter air ambulance is the most common form of air ambulances. The helicopter is how the industry started during those early missions in World War I. Since then multiple companies have formed to help that use helicopter air ambulances. The helicopter is the most common air ambulance and used for the most immediate needs. Typically helicopters are called into use when there is a car accident that has to close a highway, for example. Helicopters can be used for shorter flights in remote areas as well, where rescue can be affected by terrain.

Fixed wing aircraft is another type of air ambulance that can be propeller or jet powered. At Travel Care this is our specialty service. Your medical needs and location will factor into which plane is used for your flight. Fixed wing or jet air ambulances are used for longer flights and both offer something different for patients in need. Travel Care offers both options. Our fixed wing plane, the Cessna 340 RAM VI is used most frequently for shorter flights.

For international flights or longer domestic flights, a jet powered air ambulance, like our LearJet is used. A jet powered air ambulance can fly at a higher altitude than a fixed-wing plane. It also needs to stop less for fuel. A jet-powered air ambulance is also likely larger, which means more medical equipment can be carried onto the flight. All of our planes are equipped with modern communications tools as well as medical equipment.

Types of Patients Served by Air Ambulances

Air ambulance services are intended for people who are too ill to travel long distances by ground. Typically anyone who needs to travel more than 250 miles that needs special medical care is who will most benefit from air ambulance services. Patients that need our help in this situation are usually on vacation and need to be flown home because of serious medical conditions. The patient could have become ill or had an accident while traveling or could have had a previous medical condition arise again at the worst possible time. Sometimes patients who travel would rather go home to their own hospital to receive care.

Not all of our clients have critical care needs. The reverse of the traveler who had a medical emergency is someone undergoing medical treatment that would like to be transported somewhere. Air ambulances can also be used by people battling medical issues that would like to take a trip to help with recovery. We receive requests all the time from people who want to travel but need to have medical care en route and during their vacation. Air ambulances in this case provide a vital service by allowing people who are ill the chance to live a relatively normal life.

Air ambulances also help people in need of all ages. Certain infants or the elderly may need to travel but cannot by normal transportation means. If an elderly person is moving to a different care facility across the country to be closer to family, air ambulances can provide transport and a full medical staff.

Sometimes the medical staff can accompany a patient on a normal commercial flight however air ambulances are usually used so the person can have privacy. Some commercial flights may not be able to transport a patient if the patient needs a stretcher. Air ambulances also offer the patient and family worry-free bedside to bedside services that commercial flights often can not provide.

Logistics of International Air Ambulance Flight

A lot of people wonder what it takes to pull off an international air ambulance mission. Depending on where the patient is traveling, the logistics can be very difficult. You have to factor in weather conditions in every part of the world, need to have proper communications with different airports, overcome language barriers in the healthcare industry, and so much more.

Take, for example, one of our more recent international air ambulance flights. About a week ago our client needed to be transported from Boston, MA to the Philippines. The flight out of Boston left at about 2:30 in the morning and made its first stop at Saskatoon in Canada. From there the mission went from Anchorage to Nome (both in Alaska) before leaving the United States for the second time en route to Petropavlovsk, Russia. After leaving Russia the flight went to Tokyo and made one last top in Taipei, Taiwan. From Taipei the flight reached its final destination of Lapu Lapu in the Philippines. The total flight time was about 22 hours.

You may wonder why an international air ambulance mission has so many stops. While every trip varies the main reasons for the frequent stops are for fuel and to change the pilot crews. The above mission used three different pilot crews, with changes in Anchorage and in Tokyo. These changes are necessary to ensure the safety of the flight and to keep our pilots in safe working conditions.

As we noted earlier there are several factors that can’t always be controlled when it comes to pulling off a successful international air ambulance mission. Depending on the time of the year, weather can play a major role. When flying overseas and with several stops in between it’s almost impossible to as the weather to cooperate in so many destinations. It takes a great deal of communication between our staff as well as the control centers of the different airports to have the best understanding for what’s in the best safety interests of the flight.

While the pilots get a break, there’s no change in the medical crews on each flight. So during layovers the medical crews may use what little time they have on the ground to take a short rest, change shifts in looking after the patient, or update any of the patient’s medical needs. Keeping the same medical team in tact during the flight provides comfort and consistency for the patient.

Benefits of Air Ambulance Services

In a medical emergency reaction time is key. The first hour is extremely important to the chances of a full recovery. But what do you do when you’re in a remote location? If you suffer an accident in an area that is sparsely populated you can look into air ambulance services.

Air ambulance services like Travel Care Air work hand in hand with the local EMS to transport you to a hospital to get the treatment you need. Depending on your circumstances local officials can be called for immediate assistance and they will be in constant contact with the air ambulance services. It is estimated that air ambulance services provide medical care for around 81.4 million people who would otherwise be unable to reach a trauma center within the important first hour of care. This is especially true in rural areas of the United States and Canada.

Other than immediacy of air ambulance services another benefit is the reliability of the service. Most states have laws that promote health care quality including air ambulances. Air ambulance services need to be fully licensed and staffed with medical personnel that have their own requirements. Regulations also ensure plane safety, medical equipment safety and protocol to prevent infection. Travel Care takes these regulations very seriously to ensure the best possible care for our patients.

Travel Care Air provides its own benefits that other air ambulance services may not provide. Travel Care Air is available to persons outside the United States. If you have a medical emergency or need an operation we can make sure that you can go the the hospital of your own choice, regardless of where you might be in the world. As the world becomes more connected and international travel becomes more frequent international services are becoming more important.

Another advantage of using Travel Care Air is we offer services 24/7. We are available in your time of need any time of day and any day of the week. We’re open around the clock as well as every day of the year, including major holidays.

Private vs Commercial Air Ambulance

The major difference between a commercial and private air ambulance is, obviously, one offers more privacy than the other. Booking a commercial flight with air ambulance staff and services means your trip will be with the public. A private air ambulance offers a more personal touch. On a private air ambulance every service is catered to your needs. A public air ambulance flight, on the other hand does offer some privacy options (like a privacy curtain) but doesn’t offer the custom service a private mission would.

Another difference between private and commercial is cost. A commercial air ambulance flight is much more affordable. A commercial air ambulance flight can save thousands over a private trip. At Travel Care we offer commercial services through our relationships with several international commercial airlines. Our staff escorts a patient on a commercial air ambulance and provides all the medical services a patient needs for a comfortable flight. Services like oxygen, life-support monitoring, medication and comfort management are all handled on a commercial flight by our staff.

In some cases you can decide which air ambulance is best for you. Doctors may also help you decide. Commercial air ambulance services are used for non-critical patients only. To take a commercial air ambulance there are certain requirements that you have to pass, such as being able to sit up for take off and landings. In some cases the Medical Department must approve a commercial air ambulance flight. If, however, you need more care than a traditional commercial air ambulance can provide, you may need to use a private flight.

If a patient is needing critical care, a private air ambulance can provide safe and reliable transport. A private jet can offer more services than a commercial air ambulance. Our private air ambulance services mean that, in essence, you don’t miss a beat in the care you need from the hospital you leave to the hospital or home you are transferred to. A private air ambulance allows you and your family to arrange all the medical needs that you need for a flight to your destination.

Bedside to Bedside Air Ambulance Services

When you ask for a quote on an air ambulance you should always ask if bedside to bedside services are included. Without that insurance you could be booking an air ambulance and little else. Air ambulance companies like Travel Care that offer the service will take all the steps necessary to transport a patient. The first step for bedside to bedside service we undertake is we arrange for a ground ambulance to pick up a patient and transport them from their bed in a hospital, hospice or at home.

Once our staff arrives with the ambulance at the hospital we meet with nurses and/or doctors of the patient to go over medical reports and make sure proper medication, if any, is needed. We also meet with the patient and family before transporting the patient to the airport.

Patients are then loaded onto the air ambulance. During the flight our medical air ambulance staff is with the patient taking care of any needs until we reach our destination. Once we reach the destination we have a ground ambulance ready to meet the air ambulance and schedule an arrival at the new facility. We then meet with the doctors and/or nurses at the new facility to hand over paperwork and other information.

There’s also situations where a patient may not be critical, like in the case of a broken bone or mild stroke, where the discharge information can be given to us over the phone and we simply meet the ambulance at the airport and do the same upon arrival. Each air ambulance patient is evaluated based on their needs. As always our staff does whatever is best for the patient and can always work with the patient and family to best understand their needs.

Technology and the Air Ambulance

Technology has made the lives of pilots in the industry easier. Last year the FAA passed new regulations that all companies must follow to help pilots navigate more safely. Additionally, we now have better weather tracking information, giving pilots a better idea when it is safe to fly. We also have better equipped pilots, who have more navigation tools and information inside the cockpit to help them make wise decisions.

Technology improvements inside the air ambulance have done wonders to improve people’s survival odds. Better storage units, for example, mean that people that need an organ transplant can have one flown in. Technology is also helping sick people receive care better than before. Now improvements in medical equipment inside planes means that patients can find the best doctors, all over the world and receive care anywhere.

Using an International Air Ambulance to Come Home

If you are traveling to another country there may be hurdles you will have to face if you become sick or have an injury. Depending on how sick you become you may need to research international air ambulance services. Whether sick or injured it can be a scary time. But you can prepare for a disaster before you leave home.

Be sure to research the care in the country you are planning to visit. We’ve talked at great length about getting travel insurance. When you get insurance make sure to ask questions about coverage options for accidents or illness. Make sure that you are covered. If you are traveling to a country with a record of poor health care, ask if air ambulance coverage is included with you travel insurance. In some cases your health care may already cover you abroad, and you won’t need that type of coverage. Ask lots of questions to your current insurance provider.

In some cases you may be too injured or sick to return home by normal methods. In many cases certain countries may do everything possible to prevent you from returning home. These types of sticky situations can add unnecessary stress on top of trying to get healthy. That is why it is a good idea to research international air ambulance companies before you leave for your trip. Using Travel Care will help give you piece of mind in these especially scary situations. An international air ambulance can get you home safely, but we offer much more than that.

Our team will work with health providers in the hospital you are located to get you out if it is safe to do so. We have years of international air ambulance experience in dealing with hospitals from all the corners of the globe, including those with suspect practices. We will work with the local embassy to ensure you have the paperwork and legal information to come home to receive the care you deserve.

Prepare for Air Ambulance Trip

Last, but not least, it’s time to prepare for your trip. Depending on your needs preparing for an air ambulance trip can be a stressful time. If you are in an emergency situation you may not have the help and the time to react to the many things you will need. Working with a company like Travel Care will ease your stress. We will make sure to ask the right questions to ensure that you have all the tools you need for your trip. We can also answer your questions to help you prepare for your trip. There are ways to speed up the process if you are in a non-life-threatening situation, however, and we have a short checklist to help you prepare.

  • When calling let us know your location and where you need to go. To give a proper quote knowing locations is important for accuracy. We can also help coordinate locations if you aren’t sure.
  • Give as many details as possible about your needs. Are you in a dangerous situation (like a natural disaster) or do you have non-emergency needs? Many patients need immediate service, while others have scheduled surgeries and specific dates/times they need to travel (like an organ transplant).
  • If possible have your medical history available so we can evaluate your condition to travel. This will help us know which medical personnel to assign to your flight.
  • If you are calling for a quote have your insurance information available so we can let you know what you qualify for. If you are traveling and have travelers insurance have that information handy as well. We can also help you coordinate and talk with insurance specialists.
  • Let us know if you will have a family member traveling with you. Your air ambulance flight will be customized for you so we need to know the exact number of people traveling.
  • Tell us if you need ground transportation once we arrive at the chosen destination. We offer bedside to bedside services upon request.

Our staff takes pride is going the extra mile for our patients and we will apply that same care to you. We are available any time and any day if you need us. Request a free air ambulance quote here.

ou can learn more about our services and get more tips to help you prepare by following Travel Care Air on Twitter.


Let us help you find the best transport solutions. Our staff is available 24/7. Fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get back to you within 15 minutes. Or call us - US/CANADA: 1-800-524-7633, International +1-715-479-8881

    Contact Me *

    When is Service Needed?

    First Name *

    Last Name *

    Relationship to Patient

    Email *

    Phone *

    City & State of Departure

    City & State of Arrival

    Patient's Medical Condition

    Other Relevant Information