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Skyservice Air Ambulance Rebrands As Skyalta

Skyservice Air Ambulance has announced they have re-branded and are now known as skyalta.

“Over the past two years we have acquired a commercial escort company and completed an acquisition of an aircraft operator and maintenance center that allows us to further solidify important aspects of our aviation operations” said Sam Cimone, President of SKYALTA.

“We have a new name, but the same mission, to deliver the art of critical air medicine each and everyday, whenever and wherever its needed” said David Ewing, Executive Vice President of Global Markets.

Skyservice Air Ambulance was established in 1989 and has a long history in the provision of high quality, accident free air ambulance flights on a global scale.

From bases in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, they have become known as one of the world’s most experienced air ambulance service.

Skyservice Air Ambulance was honored to have been nominated for the ITIJ Air Ambulance of the Year award. When they were nominated, it got them thinking of where they were and how they got there, sharing their past and sharing their future.

They launched the program in September, 1989, with their first aircraft a Cessna Citation II. Their mission profile was mostly rescuing patients located in remote communities of Canada, such as Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet.

From that initial experience, they realized that they had an opportunity to enhance their medical services delivery system, thus creating an association with McGill University. At that time, their medical director Michael Churchill-Smith, MD developed one of the first aviation medicine fellowship programs, which to this day are active and thriving.

By developing this unique program they were able to improve the level of care to their patients. Additionally, instead of bringing non-acute stable patients from the north, they began to transport high acuity critical care patients. They also developed neonatal transport capabilities. This occurred in January 1990.

They developed a knowledge of the remote communities, so Canadian travel insurance companies turned to them to repatriate sick and injured patients that were out of country. They were one of the first companies in North America to supply this service to travel insurers. With the increased demand for quality air ambulance services for travelers, they reviewed the aircraft type in 1990; the aircraft of choice was the Learjet 24 and Learjet 25. They took the time to evaluate options and decided to proceed with the Learjet 35A. Over the next few years they purchased their fleet.

In 1992 they retired the Cessna Citation II, and in 1995 purchased their fifth and last Learjet 35A.

During this period they achieved many first milestones as a company:

  • One of the first air ambulance operators to meet all the aviation criteria to fly overseas in the mid-1990’s.
  • One of the first to transport a Neonatal patient from the Middle East to North America in the mid 90’s.
  • Their Learjet 35A fleet was one of the only providers that offered dual patient air ambulance transport in North America.

As the years progressed they continued to improve on delivering state of the art medical equipment and continued to push the envelope in medical transport for their patients and clients worldwide.

In the mid 2000’s they were one of the first air ambulance providers to transport a patient on an inter-aortic balloon pump for a flight duration time of over 3 hours.

Skyservice Air Ambulance was the first air ambulance provider in North America to become EURAMI accredited for Special Care in 2007.

In 2010, they continued to advance critical care aero medicine as the only air ambulance provider to transport a patient on two left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) pumps simultaneously from the United Kingdom to North America, so the patient could receive a new heart transplant.

In 2011, they were again called upon to transport a critically ill child from Japan to North America using Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Skyservice Air Ambulance completed these flights which were challenging and involved a team that could problem solve the challenges and evaluate the risk that all of the patients were exposed to.

More importantly they approach all of their patient transports this way to ensure that they manage both the patient and their clients risk safely and efficiently. As they continued to advance critical care air medical transport, in 2010 the process of fleet renewal evaluation began and in 2011 they purchased their first Learjet 45XR. Skyservice Air Ambulance was the first provider in North America that has a medically dedicated Learjet 45XR fleet.

In 2012 their second Learjet 45XR joined the fleet with their third Learjet 45 XR scheduled to join the fleet by year end. The new Learjet 45XR fleet are equipped to transport two patients on Lifeport stretcher systems. The interior was modified with a custom, certified medical cabinet that permits them to carry maximum medical oxygen supply for their high acuity intensive care patients.

Skyalta has invested heavily in patient care equipment for the future The renewal of equipment to Physio Control Lifepak 15’s to the state of the art T1 Hamilton Ventilators which improve patient ventilatory care during transport. The goal is not to just maintain their care but to improve their medical condition and treatment enroute to have an impact on the patients outcomes with a quicker and non delayed recovery.

As they continue to grow as Skyalta, they have welcomed their 31,000th patient on board. Their future is bright and with their investments in aircraft and medical equipment they will continue to remain an industry leader going forward.


iPMI Magazine Speaks With Dr. Gert Muurling, Medical Director, Air Alliance

On air ambulance flights, patients are transported with many different complicated medical conditions and injuries, and it is crucial for the safety of the patient and crews that the aircraft is kept meticulously clean. In this iPMI Magazine exclusive interview Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine asks Air Alliance Medical Director and Hygiene Specialist, Dr. Gert Muurling, what the potential hazards are and how the hygiene and infection control on board are ensured.

Which infections are most prevalent on air ambulance flights?

In general, the most common infections are urinary tract infections caused by bladder catheters and pneumonia.

All airways, catheters and access points are potential pathways for bacteria to enter the body. If care on board is not performed correctly, a life-threatening sepsis could potentially occur.

Many of our patients are intensive care patients who have already spent one or two weeks in a hospital abroad. This group of patients have multiple accesses and catheters, and they all receive antibiotics, which are unfortunately often given on a large scale. This means that a germ count or a sensitivity / resistance test has not been performed. All antibiotics weaken the immune system and can lead to secondary infections and this is how the proliferation of multi-resistant bacteria is promoted.

During our missions we see many different intensive care units worldwide and through this experience we can see that we are immediately battling with infection prevention. We regularly see units where no hand disinfection gel is provided and so everyone who enters or works in that unit is a potential infection risk.

How are hygiene and infection protection on board ensured?

There are two important pillars: training and preparation. The more the staff know about the different pathogens, the more effectively they can protect themselves, the crew and the patient. By “effective”, I do not mean that you should dress like Dustin Hoffman in "Outbreak"! Most bacteria and viruses do not "jump" directly from the patient to the medical team and vice versa and therefore, for many infections, wearing gloves while working with the patient is fully sufficient. No pathogens will penetrate intact skin. The most important thing before and after touching a patient is the correct disinfection of one's own hands.

Colonization of the nasopharyngeal space may lead to droplet transmission during coughing and sneezing. In these cases, however, a normal surgical mask is sufficient for the patient to reduce the risk as much as possible. This should be done especially when loading and unloading, as it can endanger other non-trained people. If the patient does not tolerate it, then the persons working on him/ her must wear a mask (possibly with improved protection and exhalation valve). Droplets rarely fly further than one to two meters. Distance means safety!

I am very careful with pathogens that are transmitted via the air. We talk about tuberculosis bacteria, measles viruses and chickenpox viruses. All three have potentially serious consequences for us or the staff on the ground ambulance and the receiving hospital.

After each patient transfer, the used equipment and the patient room in the cabin are generously disinfected by wiping. Depending on the germ or a reasonable suspicion, the hydrogen fogging machine ("sanitizer") is also used immediately after the flight.

What happens during missions in "Remote Areas"?

As we regularly fly patients from "remote areas" who have not been sufficiently tested for pathogens, there are two things to consider; one is the detection of inflammatory symptoms by clinical examination. The second is to know the current infection status in the country where the patient is. The WHO has excellent maps on its website showing the corresponding percentage of the various common multidrug-resistant bacteria. So prior to dispatch we can already assess which germs the patient might probably "bring along".

Are there any special considerations for patients with hemorrhagic fevers?

That is a difficult question. Generally, the hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Lassa) are transmitted by droplets or direct contact. Distance is safety! At a few meters distance, nothing happens, you do not get infected. But on air ambulance flights, you cannot maintain this distance, especially as you are likely to have a highly unstable patient.

There are several infection control chambers (isolators) on the market with special ventilation and filters, but this also requires regular training of the staff and exercises. If you fly just one or two missions of this kind a year, such a system is more of a risk than a help.

Regions with Ebola outbreaks do not have a high medical standard. The risk of virus transmission in a hospital where Ebola patients are treated is very high however the areas of where the Ebola virus is prevalent are well identified. Therefore if we have a patient within the same country, but with a confirmed non-Ebola diagnosis and not within the Ebola high risk zone, we can transport these patients safely. Preparation is the key. However, the important question in Africa is always: where was the patient and where did he get sick? So you can then perform a repatriation that is safe for all concerned.

Read more news from Air Alliance, click here and visit their micro website on iPMI Magazine.


New Challenger 604 At Air Alliance

The Challenger comes in an up to three-stretcher version and is capable of carrying simultaneously two ventilated intensive care patients and one none intensive care patient.

The stretcher units are equipped with a tech-pod for secure in-flight storage of monitoring devices, respirator and perfusion pumps including outlets for AC and DC energy supply and oxygen supply. An auxiliary power unit (APU) allows to keep the cabin comfortably cool or warm during ground time. Cabin kitchen and sanitary facility round off the services.

By design the Challenger 604 provides medical crews and patients with the widest - and one of the quietest - cabins in the industry and allows a very comfortable and tranquil mode of aero-medical transport.

Combining versatility and reliability with cost efficiency, matching that of smaller jets, the Challenger 604 jet is the perfect aircraft for intercontinental transports.

Characteristics: Challenger 604

  • Type: Twin Jet engine Air-conditioned & Pressurized

  • Configuration: 10 seats or up to 3 stretchers

  • Cruise Speed: 470 kts/ 870 km/h

  • Cruising Altitude: 41,000 ft/ 12.500 m

  • Range: 3.700 nm / 6.850 km

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