With colder weather arriving and flu season just around the corner, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Minnesota’s rural communities is raising red flags for health care professionals. More cases mean more hospitalizations. For smaller hospitals, especially those serving rural communities, this sharp increase in patients could quickly lead to capacity issues, reducing the quality of care for patients.

Fortunately, emergency air medical services are there in case this happens, ready to transport patients to larger, better-equipped facilities.

Air ambulances have long maintained access to health care for rural and remote parts of the county. At the outset of the pandemic, providers implemented new safety protocols to keep patients and staff safe in-flight. Air ambulances have since taken on an increasingly large role in the fight against COVID-19, transporting an estimated 10,000 confirmed or suspected cases and relieving overwhelmed hospitals with interfacility transports.

As the pandemic continues, air ambulance flight teams will continue to save lives and maintain patient access to emergency care — in Minnesota and beyond.

Christina Kanmaz

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Washington, D.C.

The writer is spokesperson for the Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR) Campaign (soarcampaign.com).