Sunday, September 20, 2009

So what's involved in a Medevac from Antarctica?

Here's some insights from a recent discussion...

So what's involved in a Medevac from Antarctica?

1)EMS is called. Dispatch/EMS notifies medical immediately and gives a basic patient report. Medical personnel (the doc, nurse/labtech/xray tech/pharmicist) respond to the clinic if they're off-duty at the time. EMS treats and transports.
2)Medical clinic stabilizes patient, performs basic tests such as xray and labs, administers medications and conducts basic procedures. EMS assists as requested.
3)Early in treatment patient is triaged and a medevac decision is made by the medical team.
4)Ongoing treatment of patient.
If Medevac is called for, several station departments go to work to get ready for the flight. At this time of year for instance, no regular flights are coming in. This year there are two airfields at McMurdo: an annual sea ice runway for the warm season which is still under construction, and the year-round runways at Pegasus airfield. Because Pegasus is not active it must be supplied with electricity and basic infrastructure for the flight. Pegasus runway has to be groomed. The road to Pegasus (a 1-2 hr trip depending on conditions) passes over the rugged land-to-sea-ice Transition and the ARFF vehicles need to put in service and gotten past the Transition and out to Pegasus. On the other end, a medical crew preferably including a doc needs to be assembled in Christchurch, NZ. NZ or the US supplies a C17 (5 hr flight 1-way) or an LC130 (8 hr flight) and flight crew. Then the weather needs to be decent (by Antarctic standards).

What does all this cost? According to my sources, scheduled C130 flights to the Ice run around $150-200,000. A Medevac is more in the neighborhood of $1mil. So what's the cap on your health insurance policy?

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