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Global Medical Response


With a globe-spanning fleet of 306 rotor-wing aircraft and 106 fixed-wing aircraft, plus 111 fire vehicles and 7,000 ground vehicles, Global Medical Response (GMR) understandably describes itself as “the largest medical transport company in the world,” says Vicky Spediacci, COO of Reach Air Medical and Guardian Flight at GMR West. Like Airbus NA, the company has taken a full measure of precautions to deal with COVID-19. Spediacci continued, “This said, the newness of this situation has led us to partner with many other health care experts to learn about the unknowns associated with the coronavirus, and to use guidance from the CDC to manage our aircraft, personnel, and facilities safely.”


“We follow the CDC’s guidelines on PPE for our crews, and we put a surgical mask on every patient we fly,” says Seth Myers, GMR’s East Group president. “We refreshed our training on donning and doffing PPE since we know how effective it is to protect our teams. As for the aircraft decon process, that has not changed. Our standards are stringent, and are followed after every flight, COVID-related or not.”


Operating an air medical service is challenging enough under COVID-19 protocols. But GMR is facing an additional challenge


that is dogging air-based and ground-based ambulance services worldwide. Due to the public’s fear of being exposed to the coronavirus in hospitals, the number of EMS calls are down — seriously down.


“In March and early April 2020, GMR flight volumes (and ground ambulance) dropped by approximately 30 percent, with an improvement in transports in late April and early May,” Myers says. As well, “we have seen a slight decrease in volume in our trauma-related scene flights. This goes back to people adhering to the stay-at-home orders and working to flatten the curve in the majority of the country. We also saw the majority of our flight volume drop from inter-facility transfers.”


Although Myers applauds the civic-mindedness of people staying at home, he is concerned for those whose fear of contracting COVID-19 keeps them from calling 911 when they experience the life-threatening symptoms of stroke and heart attacks. “As many people know, air and ground ambulance is a highly fixed-cost business,” he says. “Nevertheless, we continue to stand behind our most valuable resource – our people – and maintain full-time hours for them, even with our reduced demand.”


“We follow the CDC’s guidelines on PPE for our crews,


and we put a surgical mask on every patient we fly.”


68 July/Aug 2020


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