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All You Need to Know About Commercial Medical Escorts

When the thought of flying in or repatriating an injured or sick person comes up, the first thing that naturally comes to mind is an air ambulance. While air ambulances are the most common way of transporting patients by air, commercial medical escorts have also grown in popularity in the last decade.

What Is Commercial Medical Escort?

Commercial medical escorts are medical personnel who assist in the transport of patients by air like a standard ambulance. However, this means of transportation is not an air ambulance, but a commercial flight.

Transporting patients via a regular commercial flight significantly reduces costs: renting an entire airplane, paying for fuel, and hiring a private pilot is substantially more expensive than booking a commercial flight.

So, patients are guaranteed medical care and attention during transit, thanks to the presence of a medical escort on commercial flights. This commercial medical escort will see to the care and safety of the patient throughout the entire trip. They will administer medication, carry out minor medical procedures, and see to the overall safety of the patient.

Who Can Use A Commercial Medical Escort Service?

Depending on the prevailing circumstances and medical condition of the patient, a certified physician will evaluate the patient and then decide whether or not they can be transported using a regular commercial flight accompanied by a medical escort.

Assessing the health condition of the patient is crucial to ensure the best level of safety and patient care. Also, since the patient would have to be flown alongside the company of regular passengers, there is a need to ensure that they are in a stable enough condition to be flown commercially without causing any significant disruption to other passengers and normal flight operations.

Despite being the cheaper option, not every patient can ride on a commercial flight. There is a need for proper synergy and communication between the physician/caregiver in charge of the patient and the potential commercial medical escort before the decision to fly the patient on a commercial flight is reached.

How Are Patients Flown Commercially?

There are several ways of organizing a commercial medical escort service. However, two of the most popular methods include:

Business Class/First Class – Owing to convenience and safety reasons, the economy class is rarely utilized when transporting patients on a commercial flight. This mode of transfer is widely offered on both international and domestic flights and is often easy to coordinate and arrange. Here, patients are generally able to sit upright during take-off and landing, but the seats can be reclined for most of the flights.

Stretcher – Here, the patient is unable to sit upright and will usually be placed on a stretcher. Some regular aircraft seats will have to be removed to accommodate the stretcher, and the patient may be barricaded with a curtain for added privacy. This service is generally only available on international flights.

However, in some instances, some airlines may offer a separate medical pod on the airplane specially made for accommodating patients on a commercial flight. Regardless of the method of travel, a commercial medical escort will always be present to care and ensure the safety of the patient while in transit.