A topic in the air ambulance world that’s being discussed among air medical crews in all 50 states is the new bi-partisan bill, S. 1407, that’s – rather miraculously – made its way to the floors of the embattled U.S. Congress. The bill, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine aspires for a new level of safety regulations for air ambulances, based on the higher standards that are already in place in states like Washington and Maine.
S. 1407, the Air Ambulance Medicare Accreditation and Accountability Act, would tie Medicare reimbursement to the new safety standards, restructuring the current reimbursement system to reflect air ambulance services’ investments in safety. Consequently, this would provide even more motivation for air medical services all over the United States to increase safety levels above and beyond their already high standing.
Even after the stalemate over the national debt ceiling in Washington ended, one other important stalemate remains unresolved by lawmakers. Yesterday, negotiators in the Senate attempted to bring a quick end to the deadlock over providing temporary spending to keep the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) running. This stalemate has furloughed approximately 4,000 of the FAA’s 32,000 employees and frozen $2.5 billion in airport construction money.
Meanwhile, dozens of airport safety inspectors are being relied upon to continue working without pay, charging their government travel expenses to their personal credit cards to keep U.S. airports operating safely. Randy Babbitt, FAA Administrator, said that his agency was depending on the professionalism of safety inspectors to continue working while their pay awaits authorization by Congress.
Air Methods Corp., already a huge presence in the emergency air ambulance service industry, has just announced that, with the recent approval given to them by the Federal Trade Commission, they will be acquiring OF Air Holdings Corporation and its subsidiaries sooner than had been expected. They are ending the federally-required antitrust waiting period earlier than the 30 days that are normally required.
This deal between two of the biggest providers of air medical transport marks one of the most significant mergers/acquisitions in the history of the aeromedical industry.
The full transaction is expected to be completed by tomorrow (August 1). This estimate, of course, is merely based upon the current expectations of both parties. Occasionally, these type of large business acquisitions can take longer than anticipated, especially if problems are encountered. Earlier, according to a June 2, 2011 OmniFlight press release, this same transaction was expected to close in July.
The following story comes to us from a recent article posted on the Royal Gazette Online.
Back in 2005, so the story goes, a Bermuda Air Medivac air ambulance was preparing for takeoff on the runway when the patient being transported went into his third cardiac arrest. The vice president of BAM, Eloise Bell, halted the flight, and the medical team quickly resuscitated the patient. Bell immediately called the patient’s cardiologist, who advised her that if they were to bring the patient back to the hospital, he would surely die.
These are the kind of tough calls many air ambulance operators have to make on a routine basis. With the dire warning of the cardiologist taken into consideration, Bell decided the patient should be flown on to the United States, where he could receive specialized care for his condition. Following medical treatment in the U.S., the patient lived for several more years, thanks in part to that tough call made by Ms. Bell.
Released by the Air Medical & Rescue Congress China 2011:
The general aviation industry as part of the current emergency rescue system for needs in China is increasingly important. Aircraft, especially fast, efficient helicopters less subject to geographical factors such as space constraints, are widely used in many countries as the most effective means of emergency rescue. Applications of emergency rescue helicopters include quickly reaching the water, the implementation of search and rescue at inaccessible spots on land, material transport, airborne command, and other tasks.
According to statistics, many countries have developed national conditions of the air rescue system. In the U.S. the rescue helicopters total nearly 10,000, in Canada there are more than 1,000, while our professional rescue fleet is only 30 planes, many of which are small tonnage. According to the survey, as of the end of 2010 there are only a little over 1,000 general aviation aircraft, with only 70 supporting the airport. This has seriously affected China’s general aviation industry and the development of our emergency rescue system.