EAA was founded in 2006 as the sales and marketing arm of parent company Luxembourg Air Ambulance – which has over three decades of experience in air ambulance flights from more than 150 countries. That experience, combined with a dedicated effort to build the brand, has seen EAA develop into one of the preferred partners of many insurance and assistance companies, governments, NGOs, corporations, and individuals around the world.
Patrick Schomaker, Director of Sales and Marketing at EAA, explained: “Our aim was to be able to offer worldwide air ambulance repatriation with outstanding end-to-end patient care, while still offering value for money for our clients. We have consistently invested in our staff, our aircraft, our equipment, and our headquarters over the years, and as a result, we now co-ordinate one of the largest specialized air ambulance fleets in Europe.
“We are an outward-looking company that is always searching for new opportunities to improve the service we provide, not only to existing clients but to new ones around the globe; and we have developed a network of international co-operation agreements which ensure we can carry out intensive care bed-to-bed transports from anywhere in the world.”
Quickly adapting to Covid-19
Even in these current times, when the coronavirus has meant huge changes to the way everyone works, medical transport companies had to move fast to adapt to a changing patient care landscape, where infection control topped the list of requirements from insurance clients and their partner assistance companies.
EAA was ready for the pandemic in one way, in that it had already developed a patient isolation unit when Ebola hit several years ago (more on that below). Nonetheless, other preparations and adaptations were necessary: “We were quick to adapt our equipment, practices and protocols to make them Covid-secure, ensuring the protection of both our patients and the staff treating and transporting them. And by using the knowledge and expertise we have gained over the years, as well as specific risk-reducing equipment, we have been able to transport large numbers of Covid patients both domestically and abroad,” says Schomaker.
More generally, the company’s focus on safety, the provision of onboard medical experts, and comprehensive state-of-the-art equipment, while maintaining the price point for clients, has meant that it remains a steadfast member of the global air medical community.
Schomaker added: “We only recruit highly qualified, experienced, and clinically active medical staff, who are all multilingual and undergo continuous training. Our aircraft are all dedicated to medical flights, and carry everything you would find in a hospital ICU. And we can carry patients that some other air ambulance operators simply cannot – including very premature babies, people with highly infectious diseases, and very overweight patients.
“Thanks to our experience of dealing with Ebola patients, we were a step ahead of many other operators when the pandemic started and controlling the spread of the virus became paramount. We have since dealt with hundreds of Covid cases, and during the first peak of the pandemic were tasked by the Luxembourg Government with transporting patients between hospitals in France where health services were overstretched, and medical facilities in neighbouring countries to help ease the pressure on hospitals in the worst affected areas,” says Schomaker.
we can carry patients that some other air ambulance operators simply cannot – including very premature babies, people with highly infectious diseases, and very overweight patients.
EAA develops technology suited to its missions
EAA’s infectious disease module (developed in collaboration by the in-house medical department with VersarPPS, and installed by Air Ambulance Technology) to safely transport Ebola patients, is unique in Europe – and was a game-changer in allowing the ambulance service to quickly adapt to carrying Covid patients. The tent-like module ensures the patient and their belongings remain completely isolated physically from the aircraft and crew, minimizing the risk of the spread of the virus, but still allowing for life-saving treatment to be administered through specially designed pockets.
EAA has developed an intelligent interface for neonatal transports called Bluebox, which delivers a stable current to ensure the incubator and all connected appliances can operate continuously.
The service also created a unique-to-the-industry training facility at its headquarters, equipped with simulators, allowing staff to rehearse adult, pediatric and neonatal medical situations as well as mass casualty incidents – ensuring they are ready for any medical situation and severity.
The service’s neonatal and paediatric service is outfitted with advanced medical equipment and some highly experienced staff – and it is the only air ambulance company worldwide to have a dedicated neonatology team on standby 24/7.
Logistical challenges to be overcome during Covid
There’s no escaping the impact of Covid-19 on every aspect of our lives – and on the aeromedical industry.
the logistical challenges of working in different countries each with its own Covid rules and regulations are significant
“In normal circumstances, we operate across borders with relative ease, but the logistical challenges of working in different countries each with its own Covid rules and regulations are significant. Simple arrangements are no longer straightforward, and commonplace missions are now complex,” said Schomaker.
“It’s hard to plan with certainty until we know how the coming months pan out and whether vaccination programmes will help us return to ‘normal’ life – but we remain optimistic and determined to rise to whatever challenges are to come.”
For example, it’s clear that in the future, more patients will need to be transported in isolation units – so EAA is considering adding larger aircraft to its fleet. This would provide more room for patients and medics and would add efficiency to our wider offering through being able to fly longer-range missions with fewer fuel stops and stopovers.
Schomaker concludes: “We’ve never been a company to rest on our laurels – we like to find ways to improve the services we provide; so, as a non-profit organization without shareholders, we’ll keep reinvesting in our staff, headquarters, aircraft, equipment and training.”