Background

The geography and population distribution of Canada have led naturally to the extensive use of air ambulances. It is estimated that some 30,000 patients are moved by air each year. Almost every province and territory utilizes some type of air ambulance service, ranging from regularly scheduled air operators to dedicated aircraft with custom-built interiors and advanced life-support equipment. As medical budgets are stretched ever thinner and the cost of specialized equipment continues to increase, the practice of moving patients to higher level care facilities will likely become more commonplace. Unfortunately, rapid growth in any field, particularly one as complex as aviation, can often lead to a lowering of standards unless properly monitored. Although an air ambulance flight is, in theory, no different from any other transport flight there are a number of unique aspects which require special consideration by both the air operator and the controlling or contracting agency. Many of these lie outside the responsibility of Transport Canada, Civil Aviation (TC) and will only be referred to in this document in their relationship to aviation safety. Medical information has been provided by Health Canada and is included for reference only.

It is hoped that the information contained in this document will help those responsible for the planning and operational control of air ambulance systems in their task of providing the safest and most effective service possible.

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