Should My Patient Be Transported by Air? Top Tips to Identify the Need for Air Ambulance


Air medical transport is often seen as the preferred mode of transport for high-risk patients, particularly those requiring a specialized critical care team during transport.

Choosing air medical transport over ground-based transportation for certain types of patients can increase safety, save time, and continue treatment performed by specialized care teams while en route. Let’s discuss some tips to help you identify when air ambulance transport is preferred.

Safety First

Safety is paramount when it comes to transporting any patient, but it’s especially important for patients needing frequent observation such as those in severe trauma, burn victims, and those suffering from neurological emergencies or cardiac arrest. Air medical transport offers a level of patient safety that can’t be matched by ground transportation. The aircraft used are specially designed to protect patients and keep them secure during transport, while also providing a comfortable ride with reduced noise levels and less vibration than you would find in a standard ambulance.

Speed and Efficiency

Air medical transport allows you to get your patient to the required destination faster than ground transportation can achieve. If a patient needs to travel hundreds of miles to receive care and there simply isn’t enough time to do so via ground transportation, then an air ambulance service can step in. Other factors like rugged terrain and weather conditions from inclement weather can create a safer, faster option when traveling by air ambulance. Air medical teams can typically arrive within minutes rather than hours — making it the ideal choice for time-critical situations where every second counts.

Specialized Care Team

Finally, air medical transports typically include a specialized critical care team that can provide enhanced services such as sedation, vasoactive medications, titratable medications, blood products, and other treatments not available on ground vehicles. Our specialized care team is highly trained and experienced in dealing with high-risk and emergent cases.

You can consider air medical transport for patients with the following conditions:

  • Severe trauma
  • Burns
  • Neurological emergencies
  • Pediatric emergencies
  • Post-cardiac arrest patients in need of specialized care and intra-arrest patients when an approved CPR device is available for transport
  • Specialty transports, such as patients requiring mechanical ventilation, Impella, IABP, transvenous pacing, invasive monitoring, and chest tube management
  • Patients receiving or potentially in need of blood products
  • High-risk OB patients
  • High-acuity patients requiring a specialized critical care team in transport
  • Patients receiving sedation
  • Patients vasoactive and/or titratable medications
  • Patients at risk for clinical or airway deterioration
  • Known or suspected COVID-19 patients

Overall, air medical transport has proven to be a preferred mode of transport for high-acuity patients due to its safety features and ability to quickly deliver specialized care teams who are equipped with all the necessary tools needed on board the aircraft. When air medical transport is being considered, you can look at safety, speed and efficiency, and utilizing a specialized care team as important factors when transporting patients by air.  

Check out Air Methods local flight programs and commitment to clinical excellence in prehospital care.