AAMS Responds To GAO Report On Changes In Air Ambulance Services


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AAMS Responds To GAO Report On Changes In Air Ambulance Services

By Daniel Baxter

September 4, 2010 - The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), the industry trade organization for air-medical and critical-care ground transport, applauds the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for releasing its report that attempts to assess the impact of changes in the air-medical industry on patient services provided. 

AAMS provided factual input to the GAO for its report, including data generated from a series of critical-care-transport studies funded by its charitable foundation, MedEvac Foundation International, and from findings generated by the Atlas & Database of Air Medical Service (ADAMS), a joint venture between AAMS and the Center for Transportation Injury Research (CenTIR) in Buffalo, N.Y.


?AAMS agrees with the GAO?s findings that additional data needs to be collected on the nature of air medical operations,? said AAMS President Daniel Hankins, MD, FACEP. ?We have been advocating for additional data collection efforts for a long time. In fact, the ADAMS project is one example of the work our organization has undertaken voluntarily because more formal efforts were not instituted at the federal level.

"Similarly, MedEvac Foundation International has funded a national database, known as the Critical Care Transport Collaborative Outcomes Research Effort (CCT CORE), which compiles the outcomes of studies involving input from more than 40 helicopter emergency medical services programs. Dr. Hankins further commended the GAO for ?fulfilling its duty by identifying an increasing body of research that reveals air-medical transport to be a highly effective medical intervention, particularly in rural areas where they increasingly function as the primary access to trauma care.?

In addition, AAMS and the air medical community ?recognize that some gray areas of jurisdiction still remain as to whether certain activities should be categorized under medicine or aviation, or medicine and economic authority to operate, as pointed out by the GAO,? Dr. Hankins said. ?However, AAMS is working to narrow confusion in these overlap areas by appointing an industry-wide task force to study these issues and make to recommendations for enhancing safety of operations on behalf of the patients we fly.?


Finally, as pointed out by the GAO, AAMS and the air medical community recognize there have been questions raised about marketing, outreach and education efforts of air medical services in the field. So, to help establish standards in this area, AAMS has established a task force that is developing a set of guidelines for ethical business marketing practices.

?Typically, air ambulance transport is used only for the most serious, time-sensitive cases ? including trauma, traumatic brain injury, stroke, cardiac, burns and spinal-cord injuries, as well as high-risk obstetrical, neonatal/pediatric and transplant patients,? said Dr. Hankins. ?And to that end, we commend the GAO for helping us fulfill our objective ? which is to make medevac transport as safe and efficient as possible, without eroding service to the patients who depend on it as an emergency care safety net, particularly in rural and other underserved areas.?

The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) is the only international trade association serving the entire air and critical care ground medical transport community. AAMS strives to enhance the medical transport industry by promoting the highest level of industry safety; promoting quality patient care; inspiring commitment to the industry?s work, causes, and viability; and providing superior service to its members.


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