How Medical Helicopters Help Save Lives (HEMS)

HEMS is considered as an integrated part of medical patient transport services in India and other countries. HEMS having better results than ground transportation as air ambulance services are with high-level advanced life support, medical care for time-sensitive medical conditions.

HEMS shortens the patient transport time from rural or isolated areas. The results of this HEMS indicate that despite improved trauma care, patients survive better when transported by ambulance helicopters.

ICATT one of the leading air ambulance transport services in India, provides high-level advanced life support, medical care and bedside-to-bedside transportation across India. Here in this blog, ICATT Air Ambulance Services in India aimed to determine how HEMS helps save patient lives in their emergency medical situation. Continue your reading!

What is HEMS?

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HEMS stands for Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. HEMS is the most advanced form of Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine and Treatment.

HEMS consists of a highly trained team of Critical care and Emergency medical doctors and paramedics who are transported by a helicopter to land in the vicinity of a critically ill patient to stabilise and then transport to a higher medical centre for further treatment. This intervention stops the primary insult and prevents secondary organ damage which is vital to survive the incident. Then the patient is air-lifted to Definitive care which, in India, can only be provided in Tertiary level hospitals located in the cities.

Emergency Patient Guide to HEMS in India

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HEMS can save lives, especially in India, as India has one of the highest if not the highest fatalities due to roadside accidents. One person dies every 3 minutes in our country due to road traffic accidents. Many of these victims could have saved if they had the right medical intervention and treated in the manner that they deserved. Also, most of the speciality hospitals are in major cities that are far away from smaller towns and rural areas.

The smaller hospitals or district hospitals do not have the necessary skill set or equipment to treat critically ill patients, and these patients are not in the medical condition to be transported via road ambulance. If they do get transferred via Ground ambulance, then the situation would further deteriorate, and in many cases, these critically ill patients pass away. Since pre-hospital emergency medicine is unheard of in India, HEMS is paving the way to introduce this necessary service.

HEMS is the most advanced form of Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine, which leads us to the question of what is Pre-hospital emergency medicine. In simple terms, Pre-hospital emergency medicine means taking the hospital to the patient. In Trauma, time is of the essence, and the patient needs medical intervention at the earliest.

Advantage of Air Ambulance Helicopter in India

The patient could be a victim of an accident or somebody who is critically ill and needs attention at the earliest. In India, unfortunately, medical care starts only at the emergency ward of a hospital; however, in the developed countries, treatment begins at the point of insult or injury. A patient needs to get medical attention at the earliest.

The golden hour is considered the time after a traumatic injury when prompt medical and surgical treatment is most likely to prevent death. It is the time after a person has had a traumatic experience, and it is controversial about its objective assessment. It is a misconception that everything is stable for up to an hour and then suddenly starts deteriorating. The period after a person sustains a life-threatening injury is a continuum where the individual’s physiological reserve supports them by their survival mechanisms where the vital organ perfusion is maintained.

Over time, this reserve depletes, and the person starts deteriorating to the point of no return and dies. This period over which this happens is affected by various factors, including the extent of the injury and the patient’s background medical problems. The only factor which can alter here is the time of advance intervention from the time of injury. The helicopter is the only vehicle which can transport the personnel with adequate skills to do just that. It is the basic concept of HEMS.

It’s essential to start the treatment at an injury spot and also during the journey for further care. It’s necessary to transfer a patient who is fighting for life and transported in the fastest possible manner, and here Helicopters come into the picture. Helicopters are fast, and it has the capability to land and take off from a small piece of open land and do not need a landing strip as such.

There Are 3 Important Pillars Or Components Of HEMS To Save Lives:

  1. HEMS certified doctors
  2. The helicopter that’s converted into FLYING ICU’s
  3. The Operational know-how

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  1. HEMS Certified Doctors: The essential aspect of HEMS is to have HEMS trained doctors. HEMS certified doctors go-through an intense training program after achieving a certain level of skill set in their training or careers. HEMS or “Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine” is a super speciality field in itself and requires many years of training in their base speciality (ED, Anaesthetics or ICU) and then further trained in PHEM, to become certified as a HEMS doctor.

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  1. Helicopters converted into FLYING ICU’s: Helicopters can reach places that conventional vehicles or aircraft can not reach, and this is another primary reason why helicopters are essential in such an essential service. Helicopters are fast, and it has the capability to land and take off from a small piece of open land and do not need a landing strip that an aeroplane needs.

These Helicopters are transformed into Flying ICU’s to provide the support the on-flight doctors need to stabilise the patient before the helicopter takes off towards the hospital. Treatment will also carry on during the journey.

These helicopters get equipped with crucial medical equipment such as monitors, ventilators, infusion pumps, syringe pumps and emergency medicinal drugs that convert them into a FLYING ICU. A HEMS certified doctor and Technician work as a team in using the equipment in a confined area and get trained to provide hospital-like service within the helicopter.

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  1. Operational Know-How: HEMS has a broad spectrum of scope and can be used for multiple reasons. However, just the medical know-how is not enough to carry out complex exercises such as saving people from natural calamities were 1000’s of people need medical attention. Due to the complexity of aviation and medicine, HEMS certified doctors need to have advanced operational expertise. They need to think fast and smart and find the right operational techniques to save people.

The Scope Of HEMS Covers:

  • Roadside accident victims
  • Significant Scale accidents such as train accidents
  • Shifting of critically ill patients from rural areas or areas that are a long distance away from speciality hospitals
  • Natural Disasters: Stabilising and transferring victims of natural disasters and during any type of calamity.

HEMS uses to save lives in a variety of scenarios. It’s essential to keep in mind this service involves introducing Pre-hospital emergency, which is critical in helping to save the lives of people and providing a better quality of life.

Why ICATT For HEMS In India?

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ICATT Air Ambulance in its Goal to launch HEMS in India has studied the complications involved in launching such a service in India and over the past few years has built out the operational and financial layouts for this service to be provided as a free service to the citizens of this country. ICATT was founded by HEMS certified doctors from the U.K with over 15 years of experience in the field.

ICATT has also launched the FAM program – Fellowship in Aero-Medical Sciences. FAM is a one-year Training Program for doctors from relevant specialities and paramedics in India. The program aims at training these doctors from across India in HEMS and Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine. These Doctors and Paramedics will carry this badge of being the future leaders of HEMS in India once it’s launched.

ICATT has also used its flying ICU in Kerala during the floods and helped save the lives of many people. The Chief Minister and the media have very well-acknowledged the contribution of such a service as well. A track and trigger process used while working with the district hospital heads to transfer the high priority cases from the medical camps and district hospitals. These critically ill patients were stabilised by our team and moved to higher centres of medical care in Kerala.

We’ve got the doctors trained; we’ve got operational know-how and are now eager to launch this service on our National highways or with Individual state Governments.


HEMS is the need of the hour in India and the ICATT has built out the medical, operational and financial plans to launch this service that would help save a lot of lives

If you want the best opportunity to meet your needs, the best option is to contact the ICATT Air Ambulance. So, if you need an ambulance service or an ambulance in India to provide medical requirements to your loved ones, contacting an ICATT Air Ambulance is the best way to connect at +91-9701111156.

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