Aeromedical services in India
Aeromedical service in simple term is a healthcare service whereby helicopters and aircraft are used for patient transportation. Aeromedical service proves helpful when a patient requires urgent medical care and time is very crucial for the patient in deciding the fate of a patient(s). Aeromedical services play a vital role in countries having a diverse and challenging geographical condition. Timely provision of medical help to the patient is a critical factor for saving the life of the patient.
Aeromedical service or air transportation of patient's for faster and better care has increased manifold over the past two decades. The idea emerged from the usage of hot air balloons in war struck regions and now these services are regularly used during rescue operations by armed forces of all the countries including India. But over the years air transportation of critically ill or accident prone patients are carried out as a routine process in many countries and people in India too are taking benefits of these services to a large extent. Many patients who are undergoing treatment in one facility but may require transportation to any other healthcare center for advanced treatment are being transported on a routine basis daily for better treatment. There may be a case where the inter-hospital shifting of a patient may be required and for transferring a critical patient using the air infrastructure service is both viable and better option in case of emergency.
Many individuals who have undergone some surgical treatment or have any medical conditions prefer to travel safely and comfortably in a commercial flight in a normal cabin seat with assistance from the aeromedical service provider escort. This makes the journey more comfortable and safer for the patient. Some patients may also need oxygen supply during traveling, particularly patients with pulmonary issues, in such cases the service provider make arrangements on the flight in co-ordination with the airline service and the medical escort accompanying the patient, monitors the oxygen supply and the condition of the patient. In some case where the patient is unable to sit, the transportation is carried out on commercial stretches which are fitted inside the aircraft and for patients safety and privacy, curtains are drawn. Patients who are able to shell out money more, also prefer to fly in smaller dedicated chartered flight for better privacy and personal care. In these chartered flights, all the medical equipment are fitted and experienced medical staff are stationed to handle the situation of the patient. This equipment may include continuous oxygen supply, airway management, cardiac monitoring, and interventions.
Cost-wise it seems that the services are costly, but one cannot compare an orange with an apple. The expenses though seem on a higher side for transportation but the ease of patient repatriation along with the transfer time is reduced when compared to ground transportation and even in comparison to the actual cost of treatment. On the contrary, studies show it is cost effective due to the decrease in time for treatment, survival benefits, and quality of life years added. Over the past decade, the wide availability of air ambulance services has brought a reduction in mortality and morbidity in India.
Gopal, a young engineer from Orissa, went for a job assignment in Nepal. He is a civil engineer and because of his efforts and dedication towards work, his boss was very impressed by him. On critical project discussion, Gopal was his boss's first preference to be sent for client meetings. This time he traveled to Nepal for a civil construction project discussion. His session went well, and after wrapping up his project discussion, he planned to visit the local places in Kathmandu and do some shopping for his family members back in Orissa. It was an un-fateful day for him, and his car met with a severe accident with a transport vehicle. The severity of the crash was so bad that the vehicle in which he was traveling was thrown some 500 meters out of the road and crashed with a huge tree. Some passing by vehicle witnessed this accident and called on the emergency helpline number. The rescue team arrived, the car was lying in an inverted position on the spot. The driver and Gopal were both severely injured. Gopal's back was severely hurt. He had suffered from multiple fractures on his limbs and was unable to move. He was in deep pain and bleeding from his nose. The rescue team rushed him to the hospital in Kathmandu and the doctor's initiated the preliminary treatment. He was admitted in the ICU. From the identity card and visiting cards in his pocket, the police could establish contact with his family members and the office back in India. His family members were clueless and in deep trauma. His office headquartered in Mumbai arranged for the transit of his family to Nepal.
Gopal's parents reached Nepal and were deeply shattered to see their young son lying on the hospital bed. The doctor's explained the condition of the patient to the family. They conveyed to the family member's that he has suffered from multiple deep fractures on both his legs and hands. This means he will be immobile for months and will be bedridden, some of the bones in his legs are badly crushed and this will require multiple surgeries. The doctor's recommended to first keep him in the Kathmandu hospital for stabilizing his condition and then airlift him back to India for further advance surgeries. His parent's communicated about his health condition to his boss, and he assured to provide all the possible financial assistance from the company for his treatment in Kathmandu and his repatriation to Mumbai. His boss, Mr. Parth connected with Hi-Flying authorities which are based in Mumbai and provided them the preliminary information of the patient's condition. The team of Hi-Flying, arranged for a call with the attending doctor to understand the current situation of the patient and for planning for the further action plan of repatriating the patient to India. The doctor's in Kathmandu hospital informed that the patient's condition is quite stable, but he is in a complete immobile state and has to be airlifted in a private jet. The family was also kept in the loop about the development and they wanted to shift their son to a multi-speciality hospital in Mumbai. After about 2 weeks, when Gopal's condition was stabilized, it was planned to air transport the patient by a private jet to a hospital in Mumbai. In the meanwhile, Hi Flying administrative team arranged for all the paperwork for repatriating the patient along with his parent's. A three-member doctor and nurses team was employed in the repatriation process as the patient was completely immobile. Learjet was used for the transportation process. In this kind of arrangement, all types of hi-tech equipment such as ventilator, oxygen cylinders, monitoring devices are fitted within the aircraft. The stretcher is highly sophisticated and fitted such, that the patient is at complete ease.
They reached the destination hospital safely with the assistance of the Hi-Flying medical team. His further surgeries initiated in Mumbai. It took almost 18 months for him to recover and to be on his feet. The family is happy and have only prayers for those who stood by them in their tough time and praises for the superb professionalism of the Hi-Flying team and the personal touch to their service which helped them to get their son back in India with no load on them related to the documentation formalities.