International air ambulance: Long distance patient transport

Medical emergencies are bad enough when they happen at home, but if medical evacuation occurs when you’re abroad it complicates matters significantly. Healthcare systems and standards of care can vary dramatically in different countries, but even if the level of care is acceptable, most people want to go home as soon as possible. For these kinds of long distance patient transport, a dedicated international air ambulance is the fastest way to bring you back.

International air ambulance Long distance patient transport

Repatriation services

Medical repatriation companies like EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation offer international medical transport services by road and by air. At EMS we have our own fleet of ICU equipped road ambulances which are always on standby and can be deployed at a moment’s notice for short to medium distance repatriations.

For longer, international or even intercontinental journeys, air travel is better suited. One options EMS provide is on a commercial flight with a medical escort. This can be a good solution for non-urgent cases and is more cost-effective than a private air ambulance. EMS work with a number of trusted airlines that meet their safety standards, and will make all the arrangements required to deliver a bed-to-bed service.

The third option is by private air ambulance. This is by far the most expensive option, but it comes with some unique benefits – and in some cases can provide a way home, when travel by road or on a commercial plane are simply not possible.

Unique advantages of an air ambulance

Speed and long distance patient transport

Private air ambulance flights can be arranged for any long distance patient distance – not just internationally but even intercontinentally. They are by far the fastest way of travel, and because they are not dependent on ticket availability or third party bookings can be arranged quickly.

Comfort and privacy

Repatriations on a commercial flight happen either by travelling in a lie-flat seat in first or business class, or on a stretcher that’s specially constructed across a number of rows of chairs depending on whether the patient is able to sit up during take off and landing. Either way the patient is surrounded by other travellers and space is limited as is the access the medical team have to the patient. On a dedicated air ambulance the patient enjoys complete privacy and there is more space available.

Even on life support

Patients on life support who require oxygen and are on a ventilator cannot fly on a commercial flight. If the distance rules out travel by road ambulance, a private air ambulance provides the only way to bring them home.


There’s no two ways about it: a repatriation on a dedicated air ambulance does involve significant costs. Not only does it require the aircraft and the medical team, but also a flight crew, fuel stops – as well as a ground crew who can take the patient from the airport to the hospital by road ambulance.

Pricing depends on a number of factors, such as distance, the patient’s condition and medical requirements, and also urgency. For the most accurate idea of costs, we recommend getting in touch so we can make sure we understand your situation and what’s involved.

We may also be able to help you think through safe alternatives if price proves to be a issue.


If you find yourself in a medical emergency abroad and would like to return home, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, to request additional information or enquire about specific options. We are here to help. You can reach us by phone, email or through the live chat function on our website. You can also request a free quote to get a better sense of financial implications.

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