Medical flights are special flights on aircraft that have been repurposed to make them suitable for the transportation of ill or injured people. These aircrafts tend to have large doors so that they can accommodate the patient and any life-saving equipment that is needed for their comfort and safety.
Some medical flights companies specialize in air evacuation, collecting people who are seriously injured in remote areas and who need rapid transportation to a hospital. In the event of a car crash, fire or sporting accident in a remote location, seconds count, and getting a road vehicle to the injured party may be too difficult or time consuming. Airlifting an injured person is a good idea because the plane can get there quickly and the paramedics on the aircraft can perform basic first aid while the person is taken to somewhere better equipped to cope with the injury they have suffered.
Other medical flights are intended for the transportation of patients from one hospital to another. If someone needs highly specialist care, and the local hospital is not equipped to provide that care, the hospital may decide that moving the person by air is quicker and safer, as well as more comfortable, than sending them in a traditional ambulance.
Many medical aircraft are equipped with dispensaries, life support equipment, IVs, defibrillators and other tools, and the flight crew includes paramedics and/or nurses who have an understanding of how to take care of patients while they are being moved. The pilots are trained in safety and the operation of the aircraft, and understand how to keep the patient as comfortable as possible while they are in the air.
Companies that offer medical flights usually work with a few specific hospitals, and are able to provide bedside to bedside care for the patients, staying in touch with the case manager for each patient and keeping them informed while the patient is on the move. They will monitor the patients and provide them with the medication and general care that they need.
Many of the people transported on medical flights in California have suffered serious injuries, including head trauma or respiratory failure. In these cases, speed is vital, and the paramedics will want to start treatment as quickly as possible so that the patient is stabilized before they are taken to a hospital.
There are a lot of different air evac or medical flight service providers in operation today, and while each provider will specialize in different areas, such as simple life support, patient transportation or critical care support, all air evac providers are required to meet certain basic standards. For example, they must make sure that any nurses and paramedics who work for them have completed rigorous training courses, and they must make sure that their aircraft are in a good state of repair and operated in compliance with FAA standards. These standards are there for the protection of both the patients who are taken in the plane, and other air users.