Flying Paramedics – The new standard in the future

Nobody ever likes to be in a situation where a Paramedic is required. However, whenever such situation occurs, everybody prefers the paramedic to be there instantly. In our hometown Toronto alone the Paramedic Service dispatches emergency vehicles to more than 220,000 emergencies annually. Like emergency services in many other countries, the Toronto Paramedic Service has to reach a certain response target: In 90% of the emergencies an ambulance has to be on the scene after maximum of 8 minutes 59 seconds. This is especially critical in about 80,000 urgent and potentially life-threatening emergencies – Unfortunately, those targets are not met in Toronto and elsewhere.

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Ambulances from the Toronto Paramedic Service respond annually to over 220,000 emergencies. However, the streets are rarely as empty as here and response times are often above the target

In fact, none of the 13 jurisdictions managing emergency medical services (EMS) in Canada are meeting the self-set targets, and many other services around the world face the same problem. In almost every country, targeted response times are exceeded. For example, in the German capital Berlin less than 60% of the ambulances arrive within the set 8 minutes target on the emergency scene. Even worse is the situation in mega cities like Beijing: In a post on the social media platform Weibo, a frustrated doctor complained that an ambulance needed 40 minutes for 3 kilometers, resulting in the death of the patient.

A perfectly formed emergency corridor like this one is rather the exception than normality in most countries

A perfectly formed emergency corridor like this one is rather the exception than normality in most countries

The reasons vary from insufficient funding or lack of qualified personnel and equipment to heavy traffic slowing down the emergency response vehicles. Even in London, the average speed of an ambulance is only about 32 km/h and in cities where the normal traffic does not give way to emergency vehicles the average speed drops drastically.  There are certainly several measurements that need to be changed to challenge these problems – One idea: Make paramedics fly to emergencies and accidents.

Not being stuck in traffic and flying in a straight line directly to a scene can reduce response times significantly. Yet, conventional helicopters bear high costs – prohibitive high costs for “every time” use. The London Air Ambulance, with two helicopters serving 1826 patients last year, had annual costs of almost 7.5 Mio US Dollars. Applying this cost-per-emergency ratio to the numbers of emergencies overall from Toronto that we mentioned in the beginning and it is obvious that a different approach is necessary.

Necessary would be an aircraft that doesn’t cost more to deploy than a standard ambulance. An aircraft that can take-off and land vertically and is compact, safe, simple and reliable – an aircraft just like the one we are building at Airvinci. Of course, the capacities of our helicopter are not equal to an fully equipped emergency helicopter like the London Air Ambulance – But with our helicopter EMS operators around the world will have an vehicle available that can bring a paramedic with equipment faster than ever before to an emergency.

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One of two London Air Ambulance Helicopter: Highly specialized, but also very expensive!

Traffic congestion, sometimes even caused by the accident paramedics are dispatched to, wouldn’t slow them down anymore and remote controlled or autonomous flying in combination with a great variety of sensors on board to avoid obstacles could allow flights at day and night. Finally, with the compact dimensions even an area of only ten by ten feet is enough to land safely, meaning we can land as close to an emergency as one can get – even an alley or a rooftop could be enough. To compare: 64 Airvinci Helicopter could land or take-off from the same space that one conventional helicopter requires.

On the scene a paramedic or emergency doctor can immediately start with pre-hospital treatment and perform life-saving procedures in urgent cases minutes before a standard ambulance could arrive there. To both ends of the scale a fly-in paramedic can improve efficiency: in case a severe case requires an airlift to an intensive care unit, the paramedic can call for the helicopter earlier as it happens today and on the other end, no transport to a hospital is required at all, the ambulance can be diverted to another emergency, improving the efficiency of the emergency service overall.

Simple requirements for maintenance, resulting in low costs are essential

Simple requirements for maintenance, resulting in low costs are essential for a standard aircraft for paramedics

The success of the implementation of small aircraft like the Airvinci Helicopter depend on a high level of cost-efficiency. This often disregarded reality about emergency services has to be taken into account since many of these services are tax-funded or depend on donations, both generally reflecting in tight budget requirements. With our design and an easy mechanical concept we are ensuring a cost efficiency through affordable acquisition costs and a simple maintenance requirements.

We are well aware that laws as well as emergency procedures would need to be adapted for airborne paramedics, yet we are confident that in the close future already our invention will help people in emergency situations faster and better.

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