Health & Safefy » Air Evacuation and Air Transport
Air ambulance services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout Mexico and the United States. Cost of typical air transport from Mexico to the United States or Canada can be from US$13,000–US$25,000 or more, depending on severity of illness and requirements of the patient during flight. The entire bill must be paid prior to the aircraft's takeoff. The medical transport company will work to secure authorization for transport with your insurance provider if this is a covered benefit. Usually family members may accompany the patient at no additional cost.
Remember, many insurance policies simply do not cover emergency transportation, regardless of the degree of emergency. Medicare does not cover emergency air evacuation from Mexico. We recommend that you purchase additional traveler's health insurance that includes emergency air transport, especially if you have a chronic medical condition that could put you at a higher risk.
Note: Despite the above warnings, we believe that there are a number of highly qualified physicians and hospitals in Mexico, and that air transport back to the United States or Canada is almost always unnecessary. Transport to one of Mexico's best hospitals will not only save a tremendous amount of money on air evacuation, but will often result in more rapid attention that can be life saving. There are several exceptional medical facilities in Mexico's larger cities, many of which are more than capable of handling the most severe of medical situations.
Should evacuation be needed, a call from a certified MedToGo hospital or medical facility will start the processing of all the requirements needed for emergency air transportation. In most circumstances, the company dispatch department will arrange all customs, immigration, and international documents on board the aircraft. It is required that all patients have their passport number, date of birth, nationality verified and visa information on hand.
A quality air ambulance company will have ICU/CCU registered nurses, respiratory therapists, critical care flight physicians, and advanced life support paramedics. Personnel should have a minimum of 5 years critical care experience and certifications in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Life Support (PALS), and Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TNATC).
The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) is the only accreditation program for fixed wing and rotor wing air ambulance organizations. CAMTS requires that the transport provider performs to high standards and strives to ensure that proper patient care and transport safety is maintained throughout the flight. The best companies have excellent training programs and annual review programs for their crews. They offer the best and latest equipment. Transportation and aircraft are modern, carefully inspected and regulated by national agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
There are a number of excellent companies based both in Mexico and in the United States. We have listed a few below that we consider in the top echelon. None of the companies listed below have paid for their mention.
Air Ambulance Companies
Air Ambulance Specialists, Inc.
Skyservice Air Ambulance
Air Trek Inc.
From Mexico: 01-800-024-8600
From U.S.: 1-888-673-7427
From Canada: 1-866-826-1177
Robert H. Page, MD and Curtis P. Page, MD are authors of the MEXICO: Health and Safety Travel Guide and the Healthy Traveler Regional Series.