Air Ambulance Case Study: Expect The Unexpected

August 20, 2019

No two air ambulance flights are the same, that’s the daily challenge of TAA’s business.

For instance, when it is discovered that medical information provided by the local hospital is inaccurate, finding practical solutions in the patient’s best interest is crucial to mission success. Also, we understand that behind every mission is a personal story, often in difficult and even tragic circumstances. Therefore, the well-being of the patient’s family and friends should be considered in every case, particularly when they are in acute distress. Both of these points were certainly present in the following case study, involving a mother and her 14-year-old son Paul who were on holidays in Egypt together, when tragedy suddenly struck.


Life-changing accident

Paul suffered an accident on a Quad bike in the Egyptian desert. While travelling at 60km/h, he lost control and rolled the bike. Tragically, he was not wearing a crash helmet at the time, as it was not mandatory. Paul suffered a severe head wound and was immediately taken to hospital. He was diagnosed with a facial paralysis on the left side, a massive hematoma, a depression fracture, a brain contusion and a subdural hematoma on the right side. An emergency craniectomy, i.e. a partial removal of the skull, was performed to release pressure on his brain. The operation removed impressed bone fragments, as well clearing the subdural hematoma.


The Egyptian coastline

Unforeseen risk to patient

The family had travel insurance and TAA were authorized to repatriate the patient. Paul’s medical report, including his capability to fly was reviewed and the mission was planned and a TAA ambulance jet was sent to bring Paul home. Upon arrival at the local hospital, TAA’s medical crew immediately identified a critical difference to the written report which they had initially received, and upon which the transport decision had been based.  Paul’s x-rays indicated the presence of intracranial air, which was confirmed by an Egyptian neurosurgeon. This presented an increased associated transport risk. A risk-benefit assessment was then performed. It was decided that in the best interests of the patient and to prevent further damage, the transport should be postponed.


Moral support

Understandably at the limits of her emotions, Paul’s mother was very upset by this necessary postponement and a decision was made, together with the insurer, that TAA’s flight nurse should remain with her as moral support until a family member could travel out to Egypt to be with her at this distressing time. After stabilizing his condition, TAA’s ambulance jet returned a few days later to transport the young patient home for further treatment. The mission was successful, and we would like to wish Paul well on his long journey to recovery.


(Photos for this article provided by Martin Ritzer)