Air Medical Group Holdings to Offer Air Ambulance Services in India

Air Medical Group Holdings, the largest privately-held provider of air ambulance services in the world, has announced their plans to start their services in India. The provider has partnered with Aviators Air Rescue, an Indian charter operator, and will likely be starting their operations in the first quarter of 2018.

Lower Cost of Air Ambulance Services Promised

This new partnership between Aviators Air Rescue and Air Medical Group Holdings is seen as huge step in emergency healthcare in India. What’s even more significant is that Air Medical Group Holdings will be offering their services at rates much lower than that of what they charge in other parts of the world.

Highly-equipped Helicopter to Deliver Quality Service

The air ambulance helicopter for use by Air Medical Group Holdings will be properly equipped to carry out transportation and medical care efficiently. It will have an approved flight stretcher and specialized equipment and medication that will be necessary for in-flight pre-hospital care.

And a fully-trained medical team will accompany the patient to provide whatever care is possible during the transportation. This will play a huge role in saving lives of patients who are in need of emergency medical care but are located too far away from a hospital.

This step will enhance the quality of air ambulance services available in India. According to Phillip Devasia, director of financial planning and analysis at Med-Trans Corporation, which is a unit of AMGH, India is a country of 1.2 billion people and if this service can be used by even just 1% of the population, it will make a significant difference.

The introduction of AMGH air ambulance will also address the issue of badly-clogged roads that make ground ambulance transport more difficult. The air ambulance will be able to cut travel time by around 90%.

Free Emergency Air Ambulance Service for Patients in Mumbai, India

The Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation has expressed their intention to provide free helicopter air ambulance service for emergencies. This would make Mumbai the first city in India to be equipped with an air ambulance facility. With this move, the city will be able to improve its infrastructural facility for saving lives and helping medical patients.

Death of Fire Fighters Resulted in the Decision

A recent incident led to the decision to provide free air ambulance for medical emergencies. Three fire fighters became injured in the process of removing a bird stuck in cable wire. They were rushed to the hospital but could not reach on time due to high traffic, resulting in the loss of their lives. The fire fighters received a visit from Chief Officer P. Rahangdale and Additional Municipal Commissioner A. Kundan at the hospital.

It was this meeting that inspired the need for an air ambulance service to provide quicker and more efficient medical care to emergency patients. After discussing it with Civic Chief Ajoy Mehta, Kundan came up with a plan to provide an emergency medical transport facility.

Air Ambulance Service to be Provided Only in Special Cases

The service will be available for free only at select hospitals, with take-off and landing occurring in open grounds. Kundan and Mehta came up with a decision to provide the air ambulance facility in the following cases:

  • For serious cases and patients suffering from accident-related injuries
  • For organ transplant cases, where organs require quick transportation

With the introduction of a quicker, more efficient transportation facility, emergency medical patients in Mumbai have a brighter future. This service should help the city in preventing unnecessary loss of lives due to heavy traffic and improve the quality of medical care provided to patients.

Air Ambulance Transport Crash-Lands in Delhi with Zero Casualties

An air ambulance carrying seven passengers crash-landed in an open field in Delhi, India on 24th May. The passengers included three crew members, a patient suffering from a neurological stroke, and three patients’ attendants. All were rushed to a nearby hospital by first responders with the help of local residents. The air ambulance transport was on its way to Delhi from Patna when it encountered a technical problem that resulted in the need to crash-land.

Details of the Crash

The Beech King Air C-90A was flying over the village of Najafgarh Kair, which is around 10 km from the airport when it experienced an engine failure. Surender Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police in South-West Delhi reported that all passengers were safe. According to witness reports, the plane was descending rapidly and crash-landed in a nearby field. The tires had broken off and the plane skidded for at least 200 meters before it finally stopped.

The air ambulance transport was on its way to transport 42-year-old Virender Rai, a patient suffering from a neurological stroke, to Gurgaon’s Medanta Medicity. The rest of the passengers included Rai’s son and daughter, an in-flight doctor, a pilot, a co-pilot, and a technician. They were all rushed to the nearby Rao Tula Ram Memorial Hospital. A spokesperson for Medanta Medicity also reported that the patient has now been brought in to the hospital and is being looked after by neurologists and experts in critical care in the intensive care wing.

Investigations Underway for Air Ambulance Transport Crash

The final investigation into the crash would be conducted under the Ministry of Civil Aviation by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB). According to Mahesh Sharma, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation have visited the crash site to conduct a probe. Run by Alchemist Airways in Chennai, the air ambulance craft had been purchased in 1989.

Air Ambulances to Lower Organ Transport Costs in India

While finding donors is a huge challenge by itself, the high cost of transporting organs has been a headache for those waiting organ transplants in India. To bring relief to these patients, the Maharashtra state government has recently signed an MoU with one of the city’s leading aviation services. The service is expected to launch in August and will be transporting organs using air ambulances.

 

High Cost of Transporting Organs in India has Horrible Consequences

Although it’s possible to transport organs for transplant by road, this is only viable in case the distance between centers is short. Since freshly-stored organs have to reach the intended recipients within a six-hour period, they sometimes have to be transported by air over long distances. Currently, this can be done by a chartered aircraft, which costs roughly 9,000 USD for an hour of flying time.

These exorbitant fees have resulted in the deaths of many patients who were in need of new organs while hundreds of perfectly good organs go to waste. In fact, there was an incident in January where a patient who was in need of a heart had a chance to receive it from a brain-dead patient from a different city. However, the chance was lost as the family could not afford the fee of 19,000 USD sought by airline operators for transporting the heart.

Air Ambulances will Transport Organs at Lower Costs

MAB Aviation Pvt. Ltd. together with UAE-based Radius Circle will provide the service at a reduced cost. As a result of this collaboration, patients awaiting organ transplants will be able to receive them on time and without having to pay high fees.

As per the MoU signed between the company and the Maharashtra government, MAB Aviation will deploy aircrafts equipped with necessary medical facilities for transporting patients and organs. This agreement is expected to bring down the cost of air ambulances to around 3,000 USD.

India on the Path to Reducing Air Ambulance Cost

If you thought it was only the US which was grappling with the increasing air ambulance cost, think again. Even India is facing the same problems. However, since the regulation that guides air ambulance services in India differ from that of the US, it looks like there is hope for India, which is much poorer than the US.

The Doctors have Asked the Government to Exempt Air Ambulances from Service Tax

The air ambulance companies are charged a service tax in India. While it is not fair to ask the air ambulance companies to reduce the charges, the doctors appealed to the Union Health Ministry to wave off air ambulance service charges. Recently, an air ambulance was used to transport a heart meant for transplant via air ambulance. To make the cost bearable for the patients, the doctors have requested this exemption from the central government.

CSR and Air Ambulance Services

The doctors are looking at corporate social responsibility (CSR) of the large Indian companies. They are expecting these corporate giants to come forward and foot the air ambulance bills, which are quite often beyond what a common Indian can afford.

Indian hospitals have seen a lot of organ transplants recently. Often, the situation demands that the organ is delivered to the hospital within a gap of as little as 4 hours. With the poor Indian roads and the vastness of the country, this is highly impossible if not for air ambulance services. The doctors feel that there is hope for patients if the corporate bodies and the government come to together to make air ambulances more affordable.

It must be noted that health insurance is just catching up in India and most of the population does not have health insurance. Currently, an air ambulance cost in India can be 700,000 rupees or $10,500.

AMGH Medical Flights Now In India

Air Medical Group Holdings (AMGH), which is the largest private air ambulance network in the world, has entered India. AMGH has promised that the services would be offered at a fraction of the price that it charges elsewhere. For a country like India, where household incomes are much smaller than the developed world, this could be great news. AMGH has tied up with Aviators Air Rescue in the country to make medical flights available under its name.

India is a Huge Market for Medical Flights

One of the primary reasons that AMGH has entered Indian air ambulance market could be the country’s huge population, which is over 1.2 billion. Even a small percentage of this population using medical flights could mean a customer base of millions for AMGH. Added to that, over 100,000 people meet with road accidents in India every year. That’s not all; over 60 million people suffer from heart conditions in the country. Such statistics make a great market for a privately held company that offers emergency medical flight services.

Medical Flights Could Counter Bad Infrastructure of the Country

India is a country known for its traffic jams and poor road infrastructure. Medical flights can easily bypass such hurdles and provide life-saving support to the citizens of the country. AMGH would be starting its operations in three major cities of India including Bangalore. Each base would have about 20 people and would include qualified personnel. AMGH is expected to invest about $500 million to maintain a fleet of 50 choppers.

As things stand in India, regulations prevent medical flights to explore the country’s skies freely. The medical flights are not allowed to land on helipads maintained by hospitals without prior notice. The medical flights would need special permission from the military and the Director General of Civil Aviation. However, efforts are on to overcome these hurdles and make medical flights a reality in the country.