Weather-related disasters and catastrophic events are natural occurrences while trekking on high altitudes, and you never really know what might go wrong in your expedition.

In case of an injury which needs immediate medical attention, sometimes the only option available is to look for a medical airlift or air ambulance service.

What is a Medical Airlift?

Airlifting involves the use of air transportation such as an airplane or a helicopter to move people or supplies to and from a location. In case of medical airlifts also known as medevacs, injured people are moved from a location to an appropriate healthcare facility. The main difference here is the need for Medical personnel who can provide the right prehospital and emergency critical care to the patients during the medical evacuation.

Air medical services are highly necessary for major trauma injuries while trekking, especially in Nepal due to the lack of proper roads or routes which are not easily accessible by regular ambulance services.

When should I consider a Medevac?

While air transport was primarily used for civilian medical emergency services, nowadays, it is common in assisting in bringing specialist care to the scene and transporting patients to specialist hospitals, especially for major trauma cases.

Major trauma refers to injuries which can cause prolonged disability or even death if not treated under specialist medical supervision. Life-threatening injuries among trekkers such as fractures, severe altitude sickness, frostbite, hypothermia, extreme sunburn, and blistering can also sometimes require immediate medical care.

What are the criteria to call a Medical Airlift?

Successful utilization of helicopter administrations for injury relies upon the ground responder’s capacity to decide if the patient’s condition warrants air therapeutic transport. Conventions and preparing must be created to guarantee proper triage criteria are maintained.

The Emergency Nurses Association has pointed out several criteria for the eligibility of airlifting of patients using the trauma severity score ISS and other clinical parameters.

These are:

  • Injury Severity Score of less than 12
  • Respiratory Rate : 10 < RR < 29 per minute
  • Systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg
  • Heartbeat per minute: 60 < BPM < 120
  • Glasgow Coma Scale: GCS < 13 or rapid deterioration of the patient’s neurological status
  • Airy trauma at head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, groin
  • Unstable pelvic fractures and signs of bleeding or shock & open 2nd or 3rd-degree fractures
  • Fractures of two or more long bones, spinal injuries
  • Burn area of over 15% of the total body surface, or in areas such as the face, upper and lower extremities, perineum
  • History of respiratory or cardiac problems
  • Sepsis and any degree of organ failure and tissue necrosis

Too much stringent criteria can avoid fast consideration and transport of injured casualties while liberal criteria can result in the airlifting of a patient, only to have the patient released in great condition from the crisis office.

As you can see, medical airlifts and medevac rescues should only be used under extremely emergency situations as the whole fight crew is under high risk while flying in severe conditions.

Looking for Travel Medicine Consultation in Nepal?

If you are on an expedition in Nepal and suffering from any injury or illness that might need immediate medical attention, remember us at Swacon International Hospital.

Our team of medical experts have extensive experience with Travel Medicine and can provide you with the professional care and treatment that you need.

To book an appointment, call us at +977-1-4478105 or email us at

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