The complete guide to Medical Escorts

Most people have heard the term “Medical Escort”. But what does it actually involve – and who uses them? Here’s everything you need to know.

The complete guide to Medical Escorts

What is a Medical Escort?

Wikipedia defines the role as“a non-emergency medical service provided by a licensed clinician.” That’s a pretty good start! In simple terms, a Medical Escort is a qualified medic who travels with a patient on a regular commercial flight, offering them support and treatment during the journey.

Who would the Escort be?

That depends on your patient’s needs. At minimum, they will be a registered nurse with specialist training in air transports. But you could choose to fly with a paramedic, a doctor with a specialism (e.g. cardiology or paediatrics), or even a team of medics. EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation can arrange any of those combinations.

How is it different from other medical transports?

The other ways of transporting a patient are by overland road ambulance, on a private jet with a medical team, or by intensive-care air ambulance. A Medical Escort simply uses a commercial flight. If you use EMS, we would find the best flight for you, book it, and make all the other travel arrangements, as part of the service.

What’s the main advantage of a Medical Escort?

There are really two advantages. First, speed: it’s usually much faster than travelling by road ambulance. Second, cost: it’s usually significantly cheaper than flying on a private aircraft. You can get an idea of the potential price comparisons by visiting our easy-to-use cost calculator.

What would stop us from using a Medical Escort?

Medical Escorts are meant for patients whose condition isn’t life-threatening – for instance if they have a non-emergency skiing injury, or need specialist support after a mental health crisis. If your patient’s condition is critical, or they need life support, they’ll need to fly by air ambulance.

How would I know which is suitable?

We can help you decide. Our repatriation specialists will go into your patient’s situation in depth when you call us. They’ll also liaise with the medics at your local clinic or hospital to get their latest details. Finally, our Escort team will check your patient is “fit to fly” when they arrive at the collection point.

Is a Medical Escort just for the flight itself?

No. Our Escorts travel with your patient from pick-up to destination. They’ll help them with the road transfers to and from the airports, airport check-ins and transfers, toilet breaks if your patient needs assistance, and the handover to your home medical team. It’s a complete bed-to-bed service (here’s why that’s so important).

What if an emergency happens on the flight?

EMS personnel are trained to deliver emergency inflight care if your patient’s condition worsens during the journey. That’s part of the reassurance the bring during a repatriation. We also carry first-aid medication, pain relief and equipment with us as standard, and can bring other equipment, such as IV drips and oxygen support, if you need them.

Do you use first class or economy for Medical Escorts?

We can use either, though it depends on your patient’s condition. If they’re able to sit up during take-off and landing, we should be able to fly business or first class (though bear in mind that some short-haul flights don’t have premium sections). If they can’t sit up, we can create a stretcher space across the seating in economy class. We can put up a screen for privacy.

How can I find out more about your Medical Escort service?

You can contact our team 24/7. They’ll be glad to help and there’s no obligation to take it further. Our global phone numbers and email address are on our Contact page. You can even WhatsApp us if you prefer. You might also like to see how other patients’ families have found the experience on our Google Reviews page. Here’s one from a Ms Surish, who needed to fly a close relative to home to India to be with her family.


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