By Paul M. Ross, Jr., Regional Account Executive, Air Methods/ARCH Air Medical Service

Air Methods is preparing for a potential spike in the Midwest, especially after the Labor Day holiday, but we also want to make sure people realize they should go to the ER if they are experiencing other life-threatening conditions.

Imagine a family member experiencing a heart attack at home with no medical attention. It’s a terrifying thought, but it is happening with alarming regularity all over the country. Air Methods and ARCH Air Medical Service want to remind the community about the importance of seeking necessary care at their local ER during this pandemic.

With bases serving Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and Arkansas, Air Methods and ARCH Air Medical Service have seen far fewer patients these past few months as well. Industrywide, air ambulance transports are down about 40 percent. The decline in ER visits has been steeper in urban COVID-19 hotspots, but also holds across rural America, which is home to about 46 million people (more than 15 percent of the U.S. population). Those who live in these areas are more likely to die from heart disease, unintentional injuries, and stroke than people in more urban areas. That means that if a rural resident is experiencing a health emergency and delays an ER visit, they are further away from the care they will eventually require.

During the continued fight ahead, it is important that people understand they cannot succumb to fears about COVID-19 that lead to other life-threatening consequences. Hospitals, air medical services, ground EMS, clinicians, and other healthcare personnel have learned a great deal since the virus entered our lives, and there is truly no safer time to visit the local ER.

Within the air medical industry, for instance, flight and base crews are fully equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and protective suits. They follow strict procedures to prevent contamination, including disinfecting aircraft and equipment between uses. This preparedness mirrors that of the emergency departments to which patients are transported. 

ARCH Air Medical is working with partners to maintain the supply chain of medical equipment to our bases in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and Arkansas ensuring our air medical team has access to additional supply chains for PPE. As our partners see their patient load increase, we are working with them to assist with surge capacity and are identifying resources by collaborating with local EMS and fire departments.

The safety of our patients and our crews is our top priority and we are committed to continuing to provide the best air medical care and access for communities across the Midwest who rely on us. We urge everyone in these communities to seek the care they require from emergency medical personnel as soon as there is a need. Emergency services are safe and available for everyone who requires them.