Patient travel: What is a Medical Escort?

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If you have suffered a medical emergency while abroad, getting back home might be a challenge. You may need specialist medical transport. When people consider medical repatriation, they often think of an air ambulance or a long distance road ambulance with onboard medical support. But sometimes it is possible to return home on a regular flight accompanied by a medical professional. This is referred to as repatriation with a medical escort.

Could a medical escort help me get home?

When you contact us at EMS, the first thing we do, is create a clear picture of your situation and all the challenges involved. When we assess which method of transportation is best, patient safety is always the determining factor. In some cases, the patient’s condition does not allow for a repatriation by medical escort. For example, if the patient is on life support, they have to repatriated by road ambulance or air ambulance. But if the illness or injury is not life-threatening, there can be advantages to bringing them home using a medical escort service. Read more about the key benefits of our medical escort service.

EMS 24-7 medical escort – What’s involved?

Patient transport on a commercial flight usually takes one of two forms.

If the patient is able to board the plane, possibly with the help of a wheelchair, and is able to sit up during take-off and landing, it is possible for them to travel in business class or first class on a regular flight. EMS works with a select number of airlines, whose seating arrangements in business class and first class offer privacy and sufficient space for the medical team to care for the patient. The seats on all these airlines can be adjusted into beds so the patient can lie down comfortably once the plane is in the air.

If the patient is not able to sit up straight for take-off and landing, the EMS team can construct a stretcher across three aisles of seats in economy class. This way the patient can remain lying down, even during take-off and landing. The stretcher area is screened off so give the patient privacy. Because of the number of seats required to construct the stretcher, it may take a little bit longer to arrange the flight, perhaps two to five days, depending on availability.

medical escort on commercial flight

What’s it like for the patient during the flight?

Our medical escort teams are there to help the patient with whatever they need, from administering pain medication to offering assistance using the lavatory. Based on the patient’s condition and requirements, a medical escort team can include doctors, nurses, paramedics and medical specialists, who are able to administer IV drips, other forms of medication and treatments. They make sure the patient is comfortable throughout the journey and look after any needs they may have, including food and drink.

Most larger planes have specially designed aisle wheelchairs which can help patients board the plane and also use the lavatory. Using the toilet can be tricky for patients during flights, but the EMS medical escort teams are there to help and make sure that using the toilet is stress-free. They can also discreetly assist with catheter care and changing incontinence material.

What happens once we land?

Once the plane lands, our medical escort teams’ work isn’t finished. They will bring you to your home hospital, take care of all the paperwork and settle you into your new hospital environment. Our team will liaise with your doctors to ensure a successful handover. We can even translate medical documents from the hospital abroad, if necessary. Our job is only finished once we have transferred you safely into the care of your medical team at home.

It is also possible to return home with a private ambulance.

If you think you our medical escort service might help bring you home, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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