The Challenge . . .
When it becomes a question of life and death, as a civilized society, we must find a way to to provide transportation for patients who need specialized treatment- not available where they reside.
Unless the distance to the treatment is within a reasonable driving distance via ambulance, the only logical method is air transport. If the patient is ambulatory or mobile by wheelchair, the solution is a seat on a commercial flight to the location of the specialized medical treatment.
The Obstacle . . .
If, however, the patient is bedridden and the distance to the specialized treatment requires air transport, commercial air carriers are ill-equipped to provide the space, bed, medical equipment and personnel, etc. Aside from the specialized equipment, there also regulatory limitations on scheduled airlines— not to mention the imposition on hundreds of other passengers to endure a delay to outfit a commercial aircraft with alternate equipment.
There is a partial solution to this problem by virtue of hospitals/businesses that operate medical-evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopters specially outfitted with medical equipment, supplies and paramedic personnel on board. We say partial solution because there are also limitations inherent in helicopters. The first and foremost being the range of a helicopter (approximately 400 miles). The maximum range is completely a function of the amount of fuel it carries, and since these MEDEVAC helicopters are geared to responding to emergency calls, there is no protocol to acquire fuel at the outer limit of flight so that the aircraft can return to the hospital base. Thus the effective range of the MEDEVAC helicopter is just 200 miles. In cases where hospitals only have one helicopter, there are legal and other implications that restrict the operation to emergency evacuation services.
Until our scientists perfect a method for teleportation of humans, as depicted in the 1986 science fiction horror film, The Fly, when Jeff Goldblum’s character Seth Brundle experiences the unintended consequences of the tiny passenger that slips into the transporter pod, we are left with only one reasonable option— Private/Business Aviation.
An Unrealistic Solution . . .
Although, on paper, it is truly an elegant solution, patient transport via private, general aviation aircraft, is completely out of reach for most everyone, financially.
The cost of ownership and operation of private/business jet aircraft is staggeringly expensive. That is the reason that these aircraft are very luxurious- their target audience is staggeringly wealthy. Private jet aircraft are owned, leased or rented by that often-maligned, wealthiest one percent.
At least the similarly staggering high cost of commercial aircraft is prorated among the hundreds of passengers that will board the flight. With the maximum passenger count of jets ranging from 4 to 14 people, the cost remains brutally high. Hence, the private jet has been the exclusive domain of the rich and famous.
A partial solution to the prohibitive cost of using fixed-wind private/business aircraft to transport bed-ridden patients for large distances, was devised by operators in the private jet charter industry. The result has been that air ambulance services are now offered by private charter companies (usually under a separate name). However, the air ambulance services are offered by for-profit businesses that remain out of reach for most of us. In many cases, a wealthy private individual or business will graciously donate their aircraft from time to time, to be used for air ambulance. Moreover, aircraft charter companies as well as individuals now provide the service when public/private donations can cover the cost. Like transplant recipients waiting for an organ, the patient may not have the luxury of waiting for the combination of an available aircraft and donated fee.
This is not meant as an indictment of charter aircraft services. Although some may see the additional service as a public relations tool, they do provide a service which would otherwise be non-existent. The point here is that aircraft charter companies are operated by aircraft/aerospace people. In order to remain profitable they must protect their narrow profit margins. The problem is they do not have the luxury of retaining medical, insurance, non-profit credentialed people to address the entire process of transporting patients.
Angel Squadron- an improvement of a partial solution . . .
Angel Squadron is a program of The Protognosis Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It’s mission is to maximize the number of patients that it can arrange air ambulance services for. It is being designed to combine public/private donations, insurance coverages, medical considerations and, as part of its combined effort, will seek to utilize air charter companies as vendors for the transport component.
As a charitable service, Angel Squadron does not have the burden of maintaining aircraft of its own. It serves more as an aggregator of services from specialty providers. While no small undertaking, Angel Squadron is a service dedicated to the respectful and compassionate transport of patients to specialized treatment centers.