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The only Air Ambulance to transport a 500 lb patient on ECMO!

On the evening of Thursday, October 31st the phone rang at the 24/7 dispatch center of Air Ambulance 1, on the other line was an Insurance Assistance Company representative seeking for help that would save the life of their member.

The insurance representative was very anxious to find an Air Ambulance service that can transfer a 500 lb patient that was on multiple IV’s, Monitor and extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

The only Air Ambulance to transport a 500Lb Patient on ECMO!

The only Air Ambulance to transport a 500 lb patient on ECMO!

In order to understand the difficulties with this patient, Imagine yourself a person getting to the ER with respiratory distress accompanied by strong chess pain, Once stabilized the doctors want to preform different tests which may include MRI & X-Ray, the only issue is that the patient will not fit inside any of the hospital medical equipment,

Therefore, his condition is unknown until he is transferred to a specialized facility that has proper obese equipment.

There were several issues in regards to this specific Medical Transport:

  1. Aircraft Stretcher – Most Air Ambulance stretcher can support no more than 350 lb.
  2. Aircraft Doors – Common Aircraft has a 24” – 36” Door opening while the patient was 41” Wide at his shoulders.
  3. Patient Weight – Needs 8 Adults to lift from Bed to Stretcher to Aircraft
  4. ECMO – The patient needed a very rare piece of equipment which is uncommon for Air Ambulance transport – extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a technique of providing both cardiac and respiratory support oxygen to patients whose heart and lungs are so severely diseased or damaged that they can no longer serve their function.

Air Ambulance 1 was one of dozens of companies which the insurance carrier tried to hire for this unfortunate transport. One service accepted the flight request but when their medical team arrived at the patient bed side, they declined the transport and went back to their base!

Our Management team met and discussed all options for this transport; we considered using our own equipment as well as any optional equipment from one of our worldwide alliance members.

The U.S. features over 50 Fully Equipped Medical Aircrafts, None of which could transport this obese patient. Furthermore, the Insurance Company, Patient Family and sending facility reached out to over 30 companies which all rejected this transport!

Air Ambulance 1 is the only company in the USA that spent over 72 Hours in researching every possible option to accommodate this critical care transport and while at some points this mission seemed impossible, the team did not give up and worked hard to achieve a safe & proper solution.

With an unmatched dedication & professionalism of the extraordinary team of Air Ambulance 1, A solution found and a mix of Aircraft, Bariatric Stretcher, Nurse & Respiratory specialist as well as a perfusionist and 8 Paramedics Made this mission successful.

On Saturday November, 2nd the patient was safely Air Lifted from the Bahamas to his final destination in Florida. The patient family was grateful, if not for the hard work of Air Ambulance 1’s team; their loved one would stay in the Bahamas without any chance to survive.

If there were ever a case for what our motto stands for it is for this type of story. 

[wc_highlight color=”red”]Air Ambulance 1 – “Saving Time…Saving Lives”[/wc_highlight]