Medical Air Evacuation: Who’s Flying You Home?

In a related article, we explained how, if you suffer a serious medical incident while you’re in Mexico, having a medical evacuation plan in place can get you back home for treatment and recuperation.

Medical air evacuations are expensive because the work involved is highly specialized and logistically complex.  If you don’t have a suitable insurance policy or evacuation plan in place, you’ll need to find tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs if you or a family member need to be flown home in a medical emergency.

On the surface, a medical evacuation company will have the required skills and the logistical complexities under full and competent management—but how can you be sure?

Private aircraft rental is a business with fluctuating degrees of service quality; trained pilots who are familiar with the nuances of a medical evacuation are not common; caring for very fragile people on the move requires specialized escort expertise to avoid potential calamity; dealing with international medical transfers requires in-depth knowledge of specific legal procedures to ensure unfettered access which could otherwise cause life-threatening delays… the variables are considerable, and fluid.

Medical air evacuation is an unregulated service, so operators can and do emerge who offer lower prices by allocating evacuation assignments using rapid-bid systems, compensating the lowest bidder of the moment with the contract and dealing with the entire assignment at arm’s length.  While this might seem innovative, it’s the kind of approach that may encourage the less scrupulous to cut corners and, in doing so, materially increase the assignment’s overall risk.

EURAMI and CAMTS are highly reputable, independent non-profit air-evacuation accreditation agencies. These organizations confirm that their strict criteria are met by inspection, and then certify that an air-evacuation provider is delivering the highest standards in everything related to a patient’s care and safety during every stage of an evacuation process. Their vigilance ensures that accredited companies only use aircraft and ground transport services which are competently managed, that flight crews are qualified and experienced, that medical escorts are licensed and experienced, and that a check-list of medical equipment is both present and duly maintained. They also confirm that the documented procedures and logistics meet their stringent requirements for accreditation.

Mark Jones, president of Air Ambulance Worldwide, a fully-accredited EURAMI aviation provider, sums up the accreditation process well: “They literally tear your company apart looking for problems and we repeat that process every three years when we renew our accreditation.”

These accreditation bodies actively oversee the interests of patients and their families who simply could not otherwise know whether the quality and safety standards being applied are the best they can be. Buying a medical evacuation service that is not accredited to save yourself some money could be a serious miscalculation.

Mexperience is associated with Travel MedEvac, a company that works hand-in-glove with Air Ambulance Worldwide, and is committed to the highest standards of medical evacuation. Travel MedEvac offers fully-accredited air medical evacuation plans for visitors as well as foreign residents living in Mexico; plans last from two days to five years and carry no deductibles.

You can learn more on our extensive guide to Medical Evacuation from Mexico—which describes what a medical evacuation service is, who needs it, and how to arrange a suitable plan for your needs.