Scott Brown is the Hemet Fire Chief and has served as a paramedic for the Orange County Fire Authority for 18 years. He recently wrote a piece on the importance of air ambulance support for emergency responders.

His article narrates his experience as an emergency responder in the fire services in his home state of California and points out that during any medical emergency, every decision made can mean the difference between life and death.

For many who live in the rural pockets of the Southern part of his state; California – up to 100 miles away from the nearest hospital – emergency air ambulance is the only option for transport during an emergency. In fact, across the United States, there are 85 million Americans who live in rural areas that are more than an hour from a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center if driven by ground ambulance.

Across West Africa; Liberia, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Gabon, Central African Republic,  the nearest Level 1 trauma center is sometimes in another country. Ground ambulance transport some times can be several days or where there are seasonal road, impossible.

Scott Brown explains how he saw firsthand the difference air medical/air ambulance services could make for patients. In the air, patients receive critical care from highly-trained flight doctors, nurses and paramedics. From strokes to car accidents to heart attacks to other traumatic injuries, he soon realized that getting patients the right care in the right amount of time was imperative for saving their lives.

Why Governments Must Support Air Ambulance services

The benefits of these air ambulance services are clear.  However, even in California they are threatened. The reimbursement rates provided by Medicaid and Medicare fail to cover a significant portion of the cost to operate these services, which is alarming when you consider that 70 percent of transport patients are covered by government insurance or have no insurance at all.

Mr Scott Brown calls on Congress to address this funding challenge to avoid disasters when people in his state experience a medical emergency. We would like to draw attention to this same issue in Africa. In countries like Nigeria, road conditions are poorer and distances to be covered are farther than in the developed world.

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Also read Mr Scott Brown’s article here.