Emergent vs Non Emergent Air Transport

While most people will have heard of air ambulances at some point, it is not always clear what the main different types are. People tend to assume that all air ambulances are helicopters that are designed specifically to rescue those in immediate danger.

This is not the case though, as there are two main types – emergent and non emergent medical air transport. This article will attempt to make the difference between these two clear, so that if you are ever in the situation of needing to know then you can easily make the call.

The first thing to know is that pretty much every form of air ambulance, emergency or not, will be in the form of a helicopter. This is simply because these are the most practical form of air vehicle available – they are fairly compact given the size of some aircraft, are easy to take off and easy to use in most situations.

As said, this is a fairly uniform feature in all types of medical air transport. But what are the main different types? Emergency and non emergency.

Emergent air transport is used in life or death situations, where a patient will genuinely be at risk of losing their life if a medical team does not get to them quickly enough. In this situation a helicopter is one of the quickest ways to get to them, as they can reach speeds far higher than a regular road ambulance, without the worry of other traffic getting in the way and slowing it down.

The problem is usually compounded if the patient is in a situation where they cannot be reached easily – up a mountain or even out at sea entirely prevents anyone reaching them on foot or by ground vehicle, so it is more than necessary to ensure that the emergency team has unrestricted access to the patient regardless of where they are in respect to the terrain.

All of this is in order to help speed up the process of getting the patient the medical attention that they need. If they are in a life or death situation then it is essential that medical professionals can get to them quickly, as it could genuinely mean the difference between them living and dying.

But what about situations where this is not the case? Sometimes someone may simply be in an area that is difficult to access where their life is not necessarily in danger. Obviously they still need to get medical treatment and should be prioritized as much as anyone else who is easily able to be accessed, and so in this situation non emergent air transport is used to access them.

This is effectively very similar, but the same safeguards may not be in place – if it is simply a mobility problem then the helicopter will not need to be equipped with the same level of medical equipment, as the patient will not need to be treated as quickly as an emergency patient would have to be.