Here's a question about certain Medivac Flights that I've been wondering about for years.
I learned from paramedics on medivac flights when I worked on an FBO ramp at Toronto Intl (CYYZ) back in the early 90's that a human heart has only 4 hours to stay good (I think it's increased to 5 hours these days due to better technology) from the time it's removed from the donor to when it's transplanted into the recipient patient. Only 4 to 5 hours!!! Then when you minus the travel time from the hospital to the airport & vise versa (hopefully by helicopter & not an ambulance), that increases the rush of the medivac flight even more.
My questions are .....
For example: Would ATC give a medivac flight such as a bizjet carrying a heart from Tampa to Toronto a #1 priority flight status? (for lack of a better phrase). Would ATC services give a medivac flight like this a direct route (if weather allowed it), as well as priority sequencing during it's arrival & approach including taxiing at both ends?
Could some airliners be given an altitude change or vectored off their course a bit by ATC, or when near the arrival airport find themselves in a brief holding pattern to provide a clear flight path for a very rushed medivac flight like this one?
Would the medivac flight's airspeed be handed over to the pilot's discretion?
Would ATC notify the military if a medivac needed to fly through a Military Operating Area (MOA), or would the pilots do it?
I know these questions may seem stupid because the obvious answer would be YES .... ATC services would do everything they could to help get the flight from point A to B as fast as possible, but, what I'm really hoping to learn about is some detailed info on what special procedures/rules are actually implemented by ATC during an emergency flight like this.
I'm wondering for example .... does the information block on a radar screen that follows the target of a medivac flight that's in a really hurry have any special markings or colour added to it to help remind controllers of the flight's emergency status as its handed off from controller to controller?
Photo © Den Pascoe
Photo © Kyle Nordman