How Air Ambulances (Don't) Work

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Writing by Sam Denby
Research by Sam Denby and Tristan Purdy
Editing by Alexander Williard
Animation by Josh Sherrington
Sound by Graham Haerther
Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster
Select footage courtesy the AP Archive and Amazon
Musicbed SyncID:


  1. James Dinius
    James Dinius
    4 uur geleden

    So basically a very useful and important to the consumer act was passed and a bunch of vultures exploited it. This is why laws need to be written very carefully. I support free markets in 99% of cases, but this is a clear market and regulatory failure and these monsters need to be stopped.

  2. James Dinius
    James Dinius
    4 uur geleden

    To everyone saying this is an example of the failure of the US medical system you are missing a key point. This is a failure of the AVIATION INDUSTRY not the medical industry. It's an aviation regulation that causes this. Dosn't mean there shouldn't be legal changes, but there is literally nothing the medical industry can do beyond lobbying for that change.

  3. KopaZ
    7 uur geleden

    5:15 What if I shoot the author of this paper 2 times to the back twice, but - 1) I leave him to bleed out for about 50 minutes, then taxi him to hospital using helicopter which say, takes about 20 minute to get to operating table. 2) I toss him to helicopter ASAP and put him on surgery which takes 20 minutes. I wonder what scenario would be better for this person?

  4. Dopp
    Dag geleden

    The problem is not really the market, it's that they can charge you for something they've done without consent, it should really be a public service so this isn't a problem ffs

  5. fat pig 789
    fat pig 789
    2 dagen geleden

    Air ambulances dont work in America. Alot of things do not work in America like their railway and their measuring system

  6. Joseph Park
    Joseph Park
    2 dagen geleden

    Imagine being in a helicopter accident only to be immediately carried by another helicopter.

  7. Shane Powell
    Shane Powell
    2 dagen geleden

    the three studies you cited, one you did not cite the remainder of the quote " The time factor involved in managing and transporting hypotensive penetrating injury victims directly to a regional trauma center does not appear to be related to an adverse outcome, at least during the first hour after injury. second did not refute the golden hour it just moved the goalpost. third did not even mention the golden hour, it just mentioned an 8 minute window. couldn't you have chosen better examples of your claim?

  8. RJ L
    RJ L
    2 dagen geleden

    the hospitals in nyc r so profitable, they store morphine in fifty-gallon drums

  9. derrickfencer
    3 dagen geleden

    America is just the shittiest country lo live in the all world.

  10. Trevor Doyle
    Trevor Doyle
    4 dagen geleden

    Basically as an American let me sum up this video. Lawyers and frivolous lawsuits make doctors at lower level hospitals terrified of being sued for messing up so they send patients off to a higher level hospitals even though they could've taken care of it easily. Evil private equity assholes decide they want to make an amazing profit off of somebody's misfortune and so they take advantage of that and bill out the ass for their "services". Then a dedicated lobbying arm funnels money to Senators and Congressman to make sure that the cash cow keeps producing completely unregulated. Almost all of America's problems could be solved by murdering lobbyists, private equity douchebags, and most lawyers.

  11. Teddy Courtney
    Teddy Courtney
    4 dagen geleden

    And all these extra profits certainly aren't going to the pilots or paramedics doing the actual life saving work.

  12. Molly
    5 dagen geleden

    It's beyond disgusting that rich private investors are just allowed to profit off of innocent random people getting gravely injured. In the U.K. rail lines literally run empty trains to/from rural areas just because they're too lazy to file the paperwork to close the lines

  13. Führer des Benutzers
    Führer des Benutzers
    6 dagen geleden

    Here in Brazil public healthcare is and always has been in a sad, awful state, most of its funding goes to corruption. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a *single* Brazilian that isn't glad it exists.

  14. Archoncommando
    6 dagen geleden

    In Germany the massive majority of air ambulance missions consist of getting an emergency doctor to the scene not transporting patients. We use a rendevous system that has the actual doctors riding in separate vehicles and helicopters. Allows for more ambulances to cover minor injuries and first aid while not needing an equal amount of fully trained doctors.

  15. Lydia Weaver
    Lydia Weaver
    7 dagen geleden

    15:59 Contradiction, you said up to $40000 but at the said timestamp, it was 50000 dollars.

  16. Aziz
    8 dagen geleden

    A friend’s bill after transferred to the US from Saudi Arabia to get treated for a year with all expenses included is $ 0.0 We call it “Therapeutic trips” and the government takes care of housing, flights, medical expenses and gives a monthly salary for those patients in addition. Any Saudi citizen can get the same, if they choose not to be treated in Saudi Arabia for some reason, or if their doctor recommends it. Also, no insurance is required since the government already pays for one.

  17. Josh
    8 dagen geleden

    There's no mention of how much of this debt is actually paid out. When you go to the hospital without insurance, you'll get a crazy bill, but that's due to price manipulation from overuse of insurance; no one actually pays the full amount. If the without the price incentives, we'd have fewer helicopters in service, then I prefer saving lives first and figuring out finances later.

  18. Ahmad Al Araby
    Ahmad Al Araby
    8 dagen geleden

    I'm amazed at how much people here discuss this as a failure of decentralised healthcare. This is an economic question, before anything. It's a market failure, indeed, where the mechanisms of free-markets have failed to drop prices. But before we judge too quickly, we must consider: i. Airlines deregulation made the American Market unbelievably healthy and alive, unlike that of Europe or anywhere else on the planet. ii. Why the assumption that air-ambulances fall under the umbrella of airlines???? Last time I checked, the two agents (players) had to be conscious for any transaction to take place (u cannot force someone into an aeroplane, they have to consent to it.) In the sense of point ii, we cannot consider air-ambulances to be a subclass of airlines at the first place (e.g. ambulances don't fall under the umbrella of taxicab regulations & hospitals are not hotels.) So, a possible addressing to the problem would be: "Why are air-ambulances considered by federal law to be airlines if the agents in consideration are not the same?" A possible solution would be to explicitly exclude it from the Act, but not to mandate a nationwide universal healthcare system. It is imperative that individuals have the right to manifest their own destiny and die of cancer if they wish to. A better proposal would be an optional nationally-organised system that give the public the ability to choose, and also compete with the unregulated market of pharmaceuticals. Cheers.

  19. krr
    9 dagen geleden

    Look up SMURD on wikipedia. That's how it's done.

  20. J Rotela
    J Rotela
    9 dagen geleden

    USA: So yeah, life is priceless and all of that, but we also like Aircraft Carriers and you know. Nothing is free

  21. Sean Mcneill
    Sean Mcneill
    9 dagen geleden

    In the uk its a mix of chairty nhs navy and raf coastguard that provides the service

  22. Nerte
    10 dagen geleden

    Welcome to another episode of "Reason #2268 why USA is the 3rd world country".

  23. Phixiq
    10 dagen geleden

    After my cousin became a EMT and two 911 calls for an ambulance for my sister, the entire things is fucked

  24. Chaim F
    Chaim F
    10 dagen geleden

    No, libertarians would not agree.

  25. CinqL80
    10 dagen geleden

    USA Healthcare is just barbaric man. This is just a perfect example of it.

  26. Ryan
    11 dagen geleden

    Amazing well done and researched

  27. Ray
    11 dagen geleden

    The British Air Ambulances work very well 9:35 Is my Air Ambulance

  28. Joel Grey
    Joel Grey
    12 dagen geleden

    I’m not disputing the mortality rates. I haven’t done the research, but I will say I have family in eastern Washington. Their hospital is pretty good, but when they’ve had severe problems (unfortunately common) they needed to go to Seattle. In several cases it would have been at a minimum excruciating for them to take an ambulance that distance. I think it provides a valuable function even if overused.

  29. rubes
    12 dagen geleden

    The US is fucked when it comes to health. In Australia for $130ish per year you get unlimited full ambulance cover. 👁👄👁

  30. Zach Matthews
    Zach Matthews
    12 dagen geleden

    Ayyyooo shout out to St.Marys in grand junction. Nice to see my home get a shout out. Still a shitty city tho.

  31. Matthew Smith
    Matthew Smith
    12 dagen geleden

    An important note about why airline prices went down after the 1978 act: prior to this, there was actually a price floor for airline tickets. Airlines had to charge customers a minimum, because it was worried that a completely free market would lead to a spiral to the bottom. Airlines would be forced to cut costs as much as possible, especially when it comes to safety, either that or go out of business against less scrupulous airlines. It wasn't that the deregulation itself caused a drop in prices, it was that one of those regulations physically stated that "tickets cannot cost less than this." Airlines are still heavily regulated by the FAA, which is why they are still so safe. So safe in fact, that an engine failure that did not hurt or kill anyone, and did not result in a crash, made international news.

  32. Dana Diederich
    Dana Diederich
    13 dagen geleden

    "There is nothing stopping this industry from charging higher and higher rates." Not quite true: visibility/awareness might help. Thank you, Wendover, for raising awareness of this important problem.

  33. Joshua Brown
    Joshua Brown
    13 dagen geleden

    as a British citizen. this is just disgusting. as an investor... jk.

  34. Shian
    13 dagen geleden

    Yet another story about how fucked the USA is...

  35. DrDewott
    13 dagen geleden

    "Unprofitable hospitals" Ah yes, because human lives at risk are a business not a right. amurika

  36. Eduardo Ramirez
    Eduardo Ramirez
    13 dagen geleden

    Medical Hospitals work and do it well, it’s America that doesn’t. Father was charged barely 100 thousand dollars before insurance. It’s absurd what they want to charge for a service that is so essential to have.

  37. MenwithHill
    13 dagen geleden

    Change your title dude. THE US DOESN'T WORK. It's the same damn thing every single time. Half of the issues you cover are caused by your inept, corrupt government NOT the technology.

  38. Robin Cross
    Robin Cross
    14 dagen geleden

    Air ambulances are all charities in the UK, funded by public/gov donations. No bills. Come on America, get your game together.

  39. Lewis C
    Lewis C
    14 dagen geleden

    The UK could fly me from Scotland to London, Perform brain surgery and give me rehab and therapy and it would cost: £0..... love the NHS🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧

  40. James Dawes
    James Dawes
    14 dagen geleden

    6:43 “The entire *American* air ambulance network” Shows footage of an Ambulance Victoria HEMS Air Ambulance from Victoria, Australia.

  41. Zach P
    Zach P
    15 dagen geleden

    Which one of you rich people are gonna start a budget air ambulance company?

  42. Marcus
    15 dagen geleden

    Nice content, Wendover. But you blatantly forgot the word "American" before "Air". Air ambulances in Europe both are free and work perfectly. Because in Europe we don't have to worry about PROFIT when talking about people's health.

  43. Google Doxx'd me Bruh
    Google Doxx'd me Bruh
    15 dagen geleden

    Water = $1.00 Water with a red cross = $150,000

  44. Glenn Stewart
    Glenn Stewart
    15 dagen geleden

    Ambulances are the one thing that isn’t automatically covered in Australia, but the two comments here frighten me. 1. that a hospital would close because it was not profitable (I suspect this is a US specific thing). And 2. that the cost cannot be regulated. It’s simple - government here sets a price and it becomes obvious when you’re being ripped off. An MRI for example costs USD $150 here (although that’s paid for by government - so $0 to patient), whereas it’s been priced to be well over $1000 in US making it the most expensive country for MRI’s with no explanation other that possibly, keeping the cost lined with profit. The helicopter flights are obviously more expensive to run than a road ambulance, but the true cost is beside the point. In Australia ambulances won’t send you broke. The cost is the same in my state whether it’s land, plane or helicopter. Furthermore there is a cap ensuring that even if the flight is several hours (which is possible in Australia), the patient (even in completely uninsured) would not be too out of pocket. A regular emergency helicopter flight for someone with a head trauma near a Sydney beach to a major Sydney hospital would cost about USD $350. The absolute maximum that can be charged is about USD $5000 (and no one will ever get it that far). A taxi charges more per kilometre.

  45. AlexKasper
    15 dagen geleden

    M*A*S*H for the win!

  46. Mike Flair
    Mike Flair
    15 dagen geleden

    Drone Air Ambulance should be able to put the helicopter out of business, in the future this issue should be beaten down by technology.

  47. Nhat Minh
    Nhat Minh
    15 dagen geleden

    Pack your things, we are going to America to start an air ambulance service.

  48. Bryan Jackson
    Bryan Jackson
    15 dagen geleden

    Air ambulances came directly out of the Vietnam war experience and the number of soldiers saved by air evac.

  49. wytonjedi
    15 dagen geleden

    A person i know fell over on a mountain side shattering their ankle they were picked up in an air ambulance and transported to hospital for surgery where a plate was inplanted and bone reset then the months of rehab.... this was all free

  50. Stivan Cameron
    Stivan Cameron
    15 dagen geleden

    I don't use them anymore. Completely impractical for scene responses.

  51. Joe Uong
    Joe Uong
    15 dagen geleden

    I didn’t expect to make an enemy today

  52. Mainline421
    16 dagen geleden

    This real problem is charging for healthcare in first place America.

  53. Tradie Trev
    Tradie Trev
    16 dagen geleden

    Seppos are stupid for not expecting public health care!

  54. No el
    No el
    16 dagen geleden

    " the decision of air ambulance use is made by doctors, not patients " True in most cases, but patients may have some agency with Do Not Ressucitate (DNR) signs. This helps the market do it's job, but it's a bit one dimentional. A better solution would be to extend the DNR to a miriad of options the doctors can or cannot do based on prior cosent of the patient.

  55. Benedikt Rasche
    Benedikt Rasche
    16 dagen geleden

    Murica. Average cost in Germany is 3500 €. Ofc that is 100 % paid for by all insurers. So actual cost is 0 € for patient in need.

  56. C W
    C W
    16 dagen geleden

    absolutely immoral and evil that America doesn't have universal health care

  57. Capitano Giovarco
    Capitano Giovarco
    16 dagen geleden

    As a European, I understand that money is kind of important in life, but I feel like everything in America is about profit. Some services should be nationalized or regulated. Like, imagine if the police was a private service. Only those who have with the money could afford protection. How unfair would that be?! But I feel like Americans tend to think in those terms...

  58. nuothe11th
    16 dagen geleden

    Now make a video explaining that the real estate market is experiencing the EXACT same phenomenon right now, except they have the “benefit” of the housing bubble bursting occasionally.

  59. nuothe11th
    16 dagen geleden

    Well, we tried to elect Bernie Sanders, but…

  60. Toujours Pret
    Toujours Pret
    16 dagen geleden

    US health system functions as a massive wealth-extraction mechanism. This is but one example.

  61. Kristian Ringen
    Kristian Ringen
    16 dagen geleden

    United States really is a developing country... super sad.

  62. Supaasandy
    17 dagen geleden

    3:27 CGP Grey: *flashbacks of Bailey Blue appear*

  63. Maya c:
    Maya c:
    17 dagen geleden

    It's almost like the american health care industry is a parasitic leech on the heart of america.

  64. Ed Tacey
    Ed Tacey
    17 dagen geleden

    Should be retitled "How Air Ambulances (Don't) Work... in America"

  65. Ash Lilburne
    Ash Lilburne
    17 dagen geleden

    **Arrives at hospital within 56 minutes** "Sorry sir you'll have to wait 4 minutes, have you not heard of the Golden Hour?"

    1. Ash Lilburne
      Ash Lilburne
      17 dagen geleden

      Golden Hour? More like....... gOlDeN ShOwEr am i rite people?? No im not. Im very very wrong. And if you thought I was right then you also are wrong.

  66. Angelo Querubin
    Angelo Querubin
    17 dagen geleden

    The devil works hard, but corporate America works harder.

  67. insylem
    17 dagen geleden

    I thought price gouging was illegal

  68. Sean Burlew
    Sean Burlew
    17 dagen geleden

    My dad has been flown to maryland shock trauma 3 times

  69. DaBudKing
    18 dagen geleden

    Solution..... communism

  70. Norbert Vidar Ramberg
    Norbert Vidar Ramberg
    18 dagen geleden

    The better and expensive insurance, the less one dies,huh? :-)

  71. Jan Sander
    Jan Sander
    18 dagen geleden

    Thank God i live in Germany! No Healthcare Bill, no Problems.

  72. Karl Neilson
    Karl Neilson
    18 dagen geleden

    Basically, they don't work in America's terrible healthcare system.

  73. Shaun Burke
    Shaun Burke
    18 dagen geleden

    This speaks volumes about the US “for profit” healthcare system. I live in New Zealand. Last November, I had an accident that resulted in a broken pelvis. Like in your story, I was taken to the local hospital and then I was flown to the level 1 trauma centre. I had major surgery and spent several weeks in the hospital. Total cost to me - absolutely nothing. I doubt that there is anyone who would call New Zealand a socialist country. Healthcare isn’t socialism. Healthcare is the way we look after each other. How we look after the most vulnerable among us shows the world how great we are. The US has a long way to go

  74. Anton Gerstlohner
    Anton Gerstlohner
    18 dagen geleden

    11:06 Ah, now the video gets irrelevant for the developed world.

  75. Benedikt Müller
    Benedikt Müller
    18 dagen geleden

    As a german paramedic: congrats on the well researched first half. To the second half: we just have a sane insurance system… ;)

  76. Habs
    18 dagen geleden

    Bollocks, air ambulances save lives

  77. Nicolas Pronovost
    Nicolas Pronovost
    18 dagen geleden

    I mean I would rather be there in under an hour then over just me tho IDK?? I am good whit the idea that under 1h is best

  78. LCpl Fingers
    LCpl Fingers
    18 dagen geleden

    I feel like this is only an issue in America. Also we don't pay for our air ambulances here in the UK, not even through taxes, all our air ambulances are charities. For example, I live in the North East of England so my local air ambulance is the Great Northern Air Ambulance (GNAA) and they gather money though fundraising events, street collecting and random donations.

  79. Spool Lyger
    Spool Lyger
    18 dagen geleden

    Air ambulances in New Zealand are free

  80. arthur staal
    arthur staal
    18 dagen geleden

    How americans can just sit back and accept the state of their healthcare system baffles me...

  81. IHateSweetgumTrees
    18 dagen geleden

    The urgent care clinic about five minutes from my house closed due to not being profitable. I live in a rural area. The nearest urgent care is now a 40 minute drive on winding roads. The nearest actual hospital is an additional ten. I know of two people in my community who died from a heart attack before ambulances arrived, and I don't even live near one of the pink spots on the map you showed. It's scary because of all of the dangerous manual labor that we do on my property - often times construction and cutting down trees. What happens if something goes wrong? We have a lot of venomous snakes and spiders in my area, too. I fear for when my dad is working underneath the house when he is home alone. What will he do if he get's bit by a copperhead, rattlesnake, or black widow?

  82. Joel Cairns
    Joel Cairns
    19 dagen geleden

    UKs more dense population ftw

  83. Millionaires Investment Secrets
    Millionaires Investment Secrets
    19 dagen geleden

    I recommended a professional broker to you guys sometime ago, can I get a person who invested with her?.... Comment

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      China Annis
      19 dagen geleden

      She is great

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      Jerry Pic
      19 dagen geleden

      I really need to invest in Bitcoin before it rises again

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      Technical Hns
      19 dagen geleden

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      Frank Cc
      19 dagen geleden

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      Frank Cc
      19 dagen geleden

      + 1 2 1 3 4 5 9 6 5 4 9

  84. koob
    19 dagen geleden

    Laugh in canadien

  85. Bruno Quaresma da Silva
    Bruno Quaresma da Silva
    19 dagen geleden

    Even in the worst country in the world (brazil), Air ambulances are free.. - such as Healthcare..

  86. inscom
    19 dagen geleden

    The NHS is slowly privatising

  87. Jo Nieman
    Jo Nieman
    19 dagen geleden

    Click bait title...

  88. intelligentcomputing
    19 dagen geleden

    so, level five is the lowest level and level one is the highest level... that should be the first clue that the system was not well thought-out.

  89. intelligentcomputing
    19 dagen geleden

    "Unprofitable hospital" is a phrase that is only realised in corrupt societies - oh, hello USA.

  90. Esormit
    19 dagen geleden

    "unprofitable rural hospitals"... Holy fuck our country is a capitalist dystopia.

  91. Jacob Ryan
    Jacob Ryan
    19 dagen geleden

    Do your part. Cap your local private air ambulance CEO for his crimes against humanity. Make the job of owning a private air ambulance company the most dangerous in america. Drive them from US soil and allow the non profits to charge what it actaully costs to fly patients.

  92. blarg I
    blarg I
    19 dagen geleden

    World: hey you guys should not let your health care industry bankupt your entire population America: Sorry say that again i just heard the word socialism 14 times

  93. Erick 0
    Erick 0
    19 dagen geleden

    I've taken a helicopter ride in Hawaii and it was $900 for an hour.

  94. Thoussaint Evens
    Thoussaint Evens
    20 dagen geleden

    where in the hell did you get such information?

  95. Pet Hedgehog
    Pet Hedgehog
    20 dagen geleden

    medicopter works tho

  96. Harvey Holmes
    Harvey Holmes
    20 dagen geleden

    In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that spending money in politics is protected by the first amendment because spending money constitutes free speech, surely by that measure charging someone for a service they haven’t consented to because they were unconscious would be compelled speech

  97. Lilian
    20 dagen geleden

    Do you know what the solution is to Air Ambulances putting people in crippling debt? Imma give you a hint, its not letting 4/100 people die. Its not fucking charging people for healthcare.

  98. Harvey Holmes
    Harvey Holmes
    20 dagen geleden

    Hearing “the hospitals closed because they were unprofitable” is so jarring as a non American

    1. ilovecars
      8 dagen geleden

      yeah go pay your insane taxes that you will not benefit 90% of them and somebody else will. enjoy giving your money to other people

  99. Kenneth Pace
    Kenneth Pace
    20 dagen geleden

    Medicine = care for patients. Insurance = bankers. Bankers = profit focus. Profit focus = No focus on patient care. Insurance =/= Good Medicine.

  100. CreeDo Lala
    CreeDo Lala
    20 dagen geleden

    So the 1800+ dislikes, what's your story? Is it people from outside the US annoyed at the USA-centric point of view? Angry right-wingers who think this is an infomercial for commie socialized healthcare? Angry helicopter pilots?