How air ambulances are supporting healthcare logistics in India

During the pandemic, air ambulances not only fast-tracked thousands of patients’ journeys to the hospital, but also provided critical care during the transit.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has completely overwhelmed the healthcare system, especially in cities like Delhi. Near chaos ensued when we saw the depletion of life-saving resources like medicines, oxygen, and hospital beds. Amidst this scenario, for many families, the only solution was to look for hospital beds outside their immediate geographies.

As families desperately scrambled to find beds wherever they could, it pushed the demand for air ambulances. While an expensive option, air ambulances are sometimes the only option for patients who need immediate care while resources around them get completely exhausted.

In another scenario, air ambulances also proved indispensable when critically ill COVID-19 patients in the hinterlands of the country required access to healthcare services like ECMO machines that were only available in bigger cities.

From business owners and politicians to actors and executives, thousands of individuals reached out for air ambulance services during the pandemic.

The benefits of air ambulances

It goes without saying that air ambulances come into the picture when there is a paucity of time. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the time crunch caused by rapidly plunging oxygen saturation levels and increasing lung damage was real, and, in several cases, fatal. In such a grim situation, air ambulances not only fast-tracked thousands of patients’ journeys to the hospital but also provided critical care during the transit.

For instance, leading air ambulances offer a complete ICU setup along with cardiac monitoring and ECMO machines. Patients are accompanied by medical experts and paramedics during the flight to ensure immediate care. In the case of COVID positive patients being transferred, the air ambulance is also bolstered with isolation pods with no attendants allowed on board.

Such technologically superior air ambulances can change the course of treatment of critical patients while reducing the number of lives lost to illnesses such as COVID-19.

Why India needs air ambulances?

When ambulance services are delayed, patients may pay with their lives. In India, patients travel the longest distances for critical care. An average trip is upwards of 50 km.

If an ambulance is stuck in traffic or simply unavailable, a salvageable situation can quickly take a tragic turn. This is not just true for the COVID-19 period but also during other times.

Fortunately, the healthcare logistics sector in India is growing rapidly. Currently valued at $3 billion, it is growing at a healthy clip of 12-15 percent Y-O-Y. This bodes well for air ambulances, as the infrastructure is likely to be enhanced over the next few months on the back of increasing demand.

Whether it is a COVID-19 patient, a case of immediate ventilation, or a case of immediate organ transplant, air ambulances can reduce the time taken to reach hospitals and begin treatment, ensuring that patients get the best care as soon as possible.

As air ambulances gain further traction in India, it is definitely good news for the country’s healthcare logistics ecosystem. The need for preparing for exigencies is more than apparent as of 2021. A wider network of air ambulances will ensure that even if another crisis occurs, we are well equipped to fight back.

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)