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Ebola Specialists

Being the Civil Affairs Specialist means I spend a fair amount of time on social media to identify trends and help deliver the message of the Castle International brand to our followers. Last week I noticed that there was a number of new updates from other air ambulance companies regarding their new containment units designed specifically to handle Ebola patients. While I applaud these new ventures into infectious disease transport I can't help but highlight that it is more than the equipment that creates a safe environment to handle these types of transports. Castle Medflight is capable of handling Ebola and other infectious disease patients through our historical experience with the cases in our partnered organization SPECIAL PROJECTS GROUP. As witnessed from the following news excerpt our team's have had extensive experience and preparation time to handle infectious disease patients. 

 

When we highlight that Castle Medlfight's operations are entrusted to veterans and empowered women we want to emphasize the experience these groups bring to our company. Our veteran staff has had extensive training in Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear, and Environmental containment and treatment procedures during their time in the Armed Forces and have transitioned those skills from the frontline of combat to the forefront of medicine. Equipment such as isolation units are critical to the successful completion of infectious disease transports but it is only half of the equation for success. All of the technology and cutting edge equipment is only as effective as the training backing it, because when it fails it is critical to have experienced minds diagnosing issues and solutions. Infectious diseases such as Ebola can create a worst case scenario at 25,000 feet if containment is broken accidentally, please don't risk your patients with teams who have only attended the course, option instead for the teams that have made it their careers to work with the most dangerous substances man will interact with. 

Castle and Cancer

Castle Medflight has developed our unique specialties due to our own unique experiences. We provide unparralled service in developing countries because we've been the patients that have needed that level of care, we have had team members that have needed ECMO, and in discussing our support for our cancer patients our experiences are no different. Our team provides our excellent level of care because of the battles we have individually faced. 

 

I'm writing today from my own perspective, speaking in my own words, and am only able to relay my own experiences with a disease that racks 12.7 million humans globally. My grandfather fought 3 battles with cancer, finally succumbing to the disease while I was a Soldier in the US Army. 12 years of separation and I still remember my last promise to him before I joined, a promise of seeing him again that I could only fulfill at his funeral. HIs loss created a hole in my heart that no words, and no amount of time, could completely heal. My grandfather raised me in conjunction with my great-grandparents while my mother worked. He was the father figure I didn't have in my life until my mother married my step-father. When he had a stroke in the early 90's and began a series of battles with illnesses that included battles with 3 separate forms of cancer I was alongside for early morning infusions before school, seeing him in rehab facility after rehab facility, followed by acute care facilities. I watched the person who I knew and loved as a mentor slowly succumb to a wasting disease that left him a shell of his former self.

 

 A critical care patient being loaded onto one of our airframes

A critical care patient being loaded onto one of our airframes

As I write this I have just received reports from another close friend of positive biopsy results that have ripped the scab off my heart. I am fearful for the future, terrified of a life without another one of my loved ones. My personal hope and saving grace is the outstanding medical care around the country that I can access through my position here at Castle and the ability to transport my own loved one to all care they will need. I know we can access the best doctors, the best medicine, and have in place the best resources to make the transport happen. 

 

When a patient calls and one of our team picks up the phone we mean it when we say we are here to help. Our patients are not just numbers or bottom lines, they are loved ones like ours. We our proud to say we deliver the most trusted critical care, anywhere, because we have been clients as well. As professionals we draw on these experiences to be the change we wish to find in medicine. 

Under The African Sun

Under The African Sun

As these entries have developed we've covered how members of our team have been aid workers and tourists that have spent time in Africa, discussed Castle Medflight's ability to rapidly respond to international crises, and even live blogged some of our international transports as they've happened. The vast majority of these entries have focused on our support for the Caribbean and South America, regions that are relatively close to the shores of the United States, so it's time to answer the question of "how we handle Africa." 

 

 A non functioning x-ray machine in Eastern Africa. Identifying equipment barriers such as this is our specialty. 

A non functioning x-ray machine in Eastern Africa. Identifying equipment barriers such as this is our specialty. 

First of all understanding the developing conditions of the African continent is key to our response plan. Through our personal experiences we are able to identify any shortcomings in the support infrastructure in the region that may be affecting our patients and properly plan a support flight. More often than not equipment is simply not available in these areas to support treatment and sustain life in the most critical cases. In these circumstances we are able to send equipment and specialists to our client's bedside to perform any needed procedures to stabilize a patient before transport. 

 

 Pre-mission checks with our specialty flight equipment

Pre-mission checks with our specialty flight equipment

An example of this would be our ECMO or ECLS team. With worldwide deployment capacity we have the knowledge and experience to establish if a developing world hospital has the infrastructure to support the advanced procedure, deploy our team with all necessary equipment and supplies to conduct the procedure, and then safely transport our patient either to one of our regional hospital partners than can sustain longer term rehabilitative care or return our clients back to the nearest stateside hospital that can support recovery.

 

This is an unparalleled level of both technical proficiency and service that is not offered by any other company domestically let alone internationally. In addition to our ability to deliver advanced medical care where even the infrastructure is underdeveloped we are still capable of maintaining our rapid response times for mission dispatch. We can be anywhere on the globe with a specialist team and equipment in less than 18 hours from our home office. 

 

 A typical African train station. 

A typical African train station. 

What is even more impressive than an 18 hour window from our Arizona office is that we are also often able to respond faster through our regional stationing of assets. Through our CONNECT Network we have global partners that ascribe to our standard of care often, enabling our teams to have a physical response time of under 8 hours with most specialist equipment. It is only in severe and extreme cases that our arrival time at bedside from mission launch is outside of this window.

 

 

Castle Medflight stands by our mantra of providing the best critical care...anywhere!

Turn and Burn

Castle is a dynamic team, and nothing illustrates that quite like days like today. While responding to our cardiac patient discussed in our previous blog entry the same on ground partner alerted us to another immediate for a critical medical transport for a construction worker who had amputated their hand.

The team immediately went back to the sandbox. This operation required a longer range airframe than the previous mission due to a need to return the construction worker to Montreal, Canada. Each taking a operate part of the problem that we specialized in we went back to it. A receiving hospital was located, insurance was approved, possible airframes were identified and alerted. Within 20 minutes we had the operation turn key ready for launch and were awaiting approval from our on ground partner to launch. 

We were coming up on a hard deadline. The airport normally closes at 2000 (8PM) local time, however our partner in the past has managed to cultivate a relationship with the government that allows them to keep the airport open for emergency flights through our organization. It's notable that this is a partnership and service we have cultivated with numerous global locations and governments, part of the secret that is our ability to respond anywhere in the globe on a moments notice.  Awaiting confirmation and approval that the facilities we would need to support our flight would be available we took another dry run through the entire operation:

Upon confirmation of launch order plane will be airborne in less than 30 minutes, en-route with all required supplemental medication and equipment to restock the ground team. 

At 30 minutes from landing the ground team will depart the hospital with patient and hold at the tarmac for our airframe to arrive. Once plane is on ground and fueled the patient will be loaded and secured for transport. Our aeromedical crew takes charge of treatment from our ground partner and makes the patient comfortable for transport.

Upon landing our ground ambulance team will be standing by for the transport from the Montreal Airport to our patient's identified hospital. 

Granted there are more steps than this involved in positioning the plane and preparing a hospital to receive a patient but the intricate details cannot occur without the transport plan in place. Another benefit of working with a true global provider is our ability to work alongside all insurance providers. The medical industry is a notoriously difficult to navigate field domestically, adding international medical policy support into the equation makes it infinitely more difficult. 

 A stock photo from our ground ambulance partner from a previous evacuation

A stock photo from our ground ambulance partner from a previous evacuation

Our patient spent 2 hours on cow path's that barely counted as roads before they reached a clinic where he could be stabilized for shock, pain relievers barely tame the pain, worst of all the patient has time to process everything that has occurred. Amputations are traumatic injuries physically and emotionally, in the United States there are response times and protocols that enable a patient to be sedated rapidly and treated in supportive environments. In this case it would be at least 3 hours before a patient would see a doctor, 6 hours before they would reach their home hospital, the entire time not able to be completely sedated, receiving only painkillers instead. 

At the end of the day our patient made it home alive and well, treated the entire way with the best medicine we could provide. Castle Medflight prides itself in providing the most trusted critical care, anywhere, even where there are no roads. 

Rapid Response Specialists

The morning at Castle Medflight started as it usually does, sipping coffee and beginning our update briefings. As we discussed our individual milestones and our coming business development goals phones and computers started beeping simultaneous alerts. 

A network partner of ours in the Caribbean was reaching out with an emergency evacuation of a patient who was actively having a cardiac event. Cardiac issues can be life threatening in the United States. According to the American heart Association in 2016 alone more than 350,000 out-of-Hospital Cardiac arrests occurred with an overall survival rate 0f 12%. What is remarkable is that 46% of these patients received immediate bystander CPR from qualified providers and received rapid emergency response and transport to appropriate medical facilities. With access to proper medical facilities, trained support, and near immediate transit to care only 12 out of 100 cardiac patients survived. 

 Caitlyn, one of our Patient Care Coordinator's working on securing a domestic facility from our network. 

Caitlyn, one of our Patient Care Coordinator's working on securing a domestic facility from our network. 

In an austere medical environment where there is no support or care these statistics drop even further. Our patient did not have proper medical support nearby, response time in the crowded streets and across under developed roles was outside "the golden hour" of treatment and response, and finally the hospital in the region was understaffed and not properly equipped to handle an advanced cardiac case. Circumstances from the onset of the patients symptoms were stacked against them. Fortunately the aid mission our patient was working with had put an emergency response plan in place for these types of emergencies. 

 

When the patient first came down with symptoms the aid mission immediately contacted our on ground partner, the only US level ambulance company with trained paramedics. Upon arrival on scene the paramedics assessed the patient and made the immediate decision to evacuate the patient out of country. Being aware of the patient's individual history as well as the lack of availability of cardiac specialty equipment at the central hospital the patient side paramedics triggered the alert. 

During the transport to the hospital we remained in constant contact via our telemedicine capabilities, contacted our patient's insurance provider, obtained approval for the flight, readied multiple airframes, and launched the aeromedical team. By the time our patient had reached the on-ground hospital he only had to be held and stabilized for 30 minutes before our airframe would be wheels down. 

This patient is currently safely on their way to world class treatment in one of our CONNECT Network facilities. Through a proper emergency evacuation plan and partner the on ground Aid Mission was able to provide a vital lifeline to their volunteers in their time of need. A scenario that could have ended is catastrophe in the United States has resulted in a good prognosis for full recovery thanks to the rapid response capabilities as well as technical proficiency of both Castle Medflight as well as our CONNECT Network partners. 

Church groups, aid organizations, corporations, and government entities globally all deserve the world class response and support that is found domestically. Castle Medflight can deliver that support. Call us today!

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