If you or one of your party are taken ill abroad or hundreds of miles from a city your insurance will pay for you to travel by air ambulance.
The other main use for these aircraft is to repatriate the remains of loved ones who have died abroad.
Air ambulances come in two varieties, helicopters and fixed wing. Helicopter air ambulances usually carry emergency medical teams to the scene of an accident. They are extremely useful in rural and city situations. Fixed wing air ambulances can be divided into two types again; short haul and long haul.
Short haul air ambulances are often single or twin engined, propeller driven aircraft that can land on a road near to the accident. They travel faster than a helicopter and are cheaper to run. Fixed wing aircraft can also fly in conditions that would ground a helicopter ambulance. These are used in rural counties in US and Australia.. The air ambulance service in these situations is no luxury, it is essential if lives are to be saved.
Long haul air ambulances are usually business jets. These are used where patients are to be transported over transcontinental and transatlantic distances. They are quicker and more comfortable over these longer distances. If a person has died abroad relatives will often use an air ambulance to repatriate the remains quickly and with respect.
Helicopter ambulances are in use in most city and remote areas in Europe, North America and Australasia. Their usefulness in rural areas is obvious, allowing emergency medical personnel to reach the scene of walking, shooting or climbing accidents in the shortest possible time.
Helicopters are usually small, so only carry the most basic resuscitation equipment. The EMT crew will attempt to stabilize the patient enough to allow safe transfer to a hospital. In the city helicopter ambulances can dodge traffic and can land on the road near to traffic accidents.