Coast Guard Medevac Agreement Formalized

BOSTON – The Coast Guard’s role in providing medevacs from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket was formalized in a recent memorandum of agreement.

The agreement, finalized Feb. 14 between the Coast Guard, Boston MedFlight, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Nantucket Cottage Hospital clarifies that the Coast Guard may provide emergency air transportation from the islands when Boston MedFlight or other transportation means are not available.

The agreement does not change the long standing practice of the Coast Guard providing this life saving service to Cape Cod’s island residents. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod completes about 40 transports each year from the two islands.

Occasionally weather conditions exceed the criteria under which Boston MedFlight may provide services to the islands. Civilian aviation is subject to minimum weather conditions set by Federal Aviation Administration regulations that are waived for the Coast Guard in emergency cases.

Boston MedFlight transports over 400 patients a year off of the islands. Approximately 2/3 of the transports occur by helicopter, and the remaining by jet. Both aircraft are staffed with a critical care transport team.

Emergency medical service coordinators may request Coast Guard assistance to transport patients needing emergency medical services from one medical facility to another in serious cases when the Coast Guard appears to be the most feasible means of providing the required assistance. Prior to providing service to the islands, the Coast Guard will ascertain that Boston MedFlight is unavailable for transport. Competition with private ambulance services, including air ambulance services, will be avoided

Both hospitals agree to provide specialized medical equipment and personnel needed for medical care during the transport.

The Coast Guard will maintain a communications link between the medical facility or agency, the appropriate Coast Guard facility or aircraft, and a Coast Guard Flight Surgeon. They will also review any medical equipment likely to be provided by Hospitals for use aboard Coast Guard aircraft to ensure it is ready for use aboard Coast Guard aircraft.

The agreement provides for annual familiarization visits for all parties.

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