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247Aviation – A Guide to Patient Repatriation

Suffering a sudden accident or illness in a foreign country can be an extremely traumatic experience, for both the patient and relatives, particularly if specialised medical treatment is unavailable abroad. Depending on how significant the injury or illness is, flying home commercially may not be feasible as it may cause extreme discomfort to the patient or further damage to their health. In cases like this, patient repatriation is often the best solution. Patient repatriations facilitate the transfer of patients back to their home base, ensuring the continuity of medical care they require to make a significant recovery.

air ambulance service

247Aviation’s Learjet45XR is a specially configured intensive care equipped jet, which is especially designed for aeromedical transport of critically ill patients. This aircraft is fully equipped with a range of the latest airportable medical equipment including a range of monitors, ventilators, and complex-care equipment to ensure that the patient is monitored, every possible situation is catered for, should the patient’s health require immediate assistance in flight. The jet is equipped with a bespoke and comfortable stretcher to maximise patient comfort during flight.

COORDINATION AND PLANNING

Once the repatriation has been confirmed; 247Aviation’s experienced operations team and flight nurse coordination team will carefully coordinate the transfer of the patient, by liaising with medical professionals and transportation coordinators to ensure a safe and efficient transfer of the individual. This process usually includes the transfer of the patient from the hospital to the airport, where the aircraft will be waiting to transport the individual to the chosen destination. Every patient repatriation case is different. Therefore, patients are assessed and categorised depending on their current health status, physical mobility and how high-risk they are. All these factors are considered and will determine which medical professionals are required to accompany the patient onboard. All decisions are made to ensure the patient’s health and comfort are always placed at the forefront of the operation.

DAY OF PATIENT REPATRIATION

Prior to travel, the flight crew and the medical team will have a team briefing to ensure that everyone is well informed for the day ahead. The medical team will brief the patient profile, medications/treatments on board, oxygen requirements and travel arrangements. The flight crew will brief the weather (including any expectation of turbulence during the flight which may cause discomfort for the passenger), the flight path and expected schedule for the day. Once the briefing is complete, our team will fly to the nearest airport to the patient’s location.

Upon arrival, the medical team will usually travel to the hospital to meet the patient. During this time, the patient and/or relatives, can express their concerns and ask any questions they may have. The medical team will also conduct a final assessment to determine that they are fit to travel by air, and that the transfer will not cause any further deterioration to the patient’s health. If there is any doubt, this will be expressed to the patient and/or to their relatives.

If the patient is deemed fit for travel, the repatriation will go ahead as planned and an ambulance will transfer the patient and their travel companions to the airport. Once the ambulance has reached the airport, it will be driven airside to meet the medical team and flight crew at the aircraft. Depending on how physically able the patient is, they will either walk on to the aircraft, or they will be lifted onto the aircraft using the stretcher equipment.

Throughout the flight, the medical team will consistently monitor the patient and note any changes in their condition. Medication for pain relief, as well as oxygen, will be supplied to the patient (at the discretion of the medical team), to ensure that the patient is as comfortable as possible. Next to the stretcher, there are additional seats for travel companions which will help with any anxiety the patient and/or their relatives may have. Throughout the flight, any questions or concerns are always addressed and welcome, to help ease everyone involved in the operation.

There is always constant communication between the medical team and the pilots which is particularly important should there be any issues during the flight. The pilots are regularly kept up to date with the patient’s condition. In the unlikely event of concerning deterioration to the patient’s condition, the medical team may decide that the patient’s condition requires immediate on-ground medical attention. In this case, the flight crew will relay the information to ATC to get the patient on the ground, to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Air ambulance private jet

Once the aircraft has arrived at the patient’s home base, an ambulance will transfer the patient to the hospital (if further treatment is required and/or they require medical supervision) or they will be transported to recover in the comfort of their own homes.

Should you have any queries regarding patient repatriations, please do not hesitate to contact our team by calling on +44(0)28 9344 5956 or filling out a contact form under the “Contact Us” section on our website!

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