The Benefit of Air Ambulance Services in Remote Communities

Air Ambulances are not a modern development, with the practice of air medical transportation having been around since the Franco-Prussian war in the late 1800’s, in which hot air balloons were utilized to evacuate severely wounded soldiers. ‘Modern’ civilian air ambulances however, which comprise fixed wing aircraft and helicopters have been traditionally utilized in rural and remote regions, that are unable to be serviced via traditional ground ambulances.

Air ambulance services offer many advantages in rural and remote regions when compared to conventional ground ambulance services, such as: the increased speed at which the patient can be transported; access to regions which are inaccessible via conventional vehicles; and highly trained medical staff, sometimes including specialist doctors. Countries such as Australia, Canada, America and Norway consequently rely heavily on air transport in their rural and remote regions.

A Discussion Regarding the Use of Air Ambulance Services in Rural and Remote Regions

Australia was one of the first known countries to implement what is now known as an air ambulance program, mainly owing to the wide distances which exist between sparsely situated settlements, and the consequent inaccessibility of medical facilities. The earliest air ambulance program in Australia involved transporting doctors to patients in cases of emergency, this later changed to the well known contemporary patient transport system.

Currently air ambulance services in Australian rural areas are primarily utilized for patient transfers. Many rural and remote areas throughout Australia include medical facilities of some shape or form however; these installations are often not equipped to deal with emergency situations. This therefore often requires the timely transfer of patients to larger medical institutions, which may be thousands of kilometers away.

Air ambulance services in rural regions of Canada have also been utilized for some time due to the unforgiving terrain, wild weather and long transfer distances. It is a well known fact that over 75 percent of the Canadian populations reside in rural areas, and like Australia, the small medical installations located in Canada’s rural areas are unable to deal with severe emergencies such as trauma cases. Many of the smaller primary care facilities employ only nurses, which must quickly transfer emergency cases via air ambulance to larger urban centers.

Areas such as Alaska in the United States and the Arctic regions in Norway, in comparison to Australia and Canada, are comprised of small islands which makes transportation via ship or air ambulance the only option for many communities. These regions face numerous issues with their air ambulance transport however, the primary of which is the weather. Air ambulance pilots in these areas are however, highly trained, meaning that transport via air ambulance services is usually available. This is highly preferable to transfer via ship, owing mainly to the speed at which these air ambulances can travel.

In conclusion, air ambulances can be seen to be a vital component of medical care in many small rural and remote communities. Without this form of transport, severely injured people in these areas would have little chance of receiving the medical care that they need, consequently resulting in numerous unnecessary fatalities, and a drop in the general standard of rural healthcare.