An air ambulance is an aircraft, usually a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter, that is used for emergency air medical transport where regular land-based transportation is too slow or impractical for the needs of transporting the patient. An air ambulance is often used to transport trauma victims from an accident location to a hospital, for critically injured or ill patients between hospitals and care facilities, or for injuries and illness when traveling abroad. If a patient requires extensive or urgent medical assistance, an air ambulance may be the fastest and safest method of transport. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 28% of the nation's population require an air ambulance service to reach a top trauma center within 60 minutes.
Air ambulances are fully staffed by highly trained experts and are equipped with flight stretchers (the patient can either lie prone or on an incline, depending on the aircraft), a full complement of drugs, oxygen, comprehensive monitoring equipment, as well as any additional support prescribed by the patient's doctor.
Many medical air ambulance providers plan and schedule the entire process, including coordinating and managing communication with doctor, case managers, and family members, transportation from hospital to airport to the destination care facility. They offer bedside-to-bedside service when applicable.