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Photographer: Joachim Rode

A new survey of satisfaction among patients who receive emergency medical helicopter care shows that they are highly satisfied and feel safe in the helicopter crew’s hands.

"A healthy man in the prime of his life suddenly becomes faint and then lifeless. He has had a cardiac arrest. His wife and son immediately call 1-1-2 and start giving cardiac massage. When the ambulance arrives soon after the call, the man is shocked with the cardiac defibrillator. His heart starts beating, but his condition remains critical. In the meantime, the helicopter has landed near the man’s home and the physician decides to put him in a medically induced coma. He is flown to the Department of Cardiology at Odense University Hospital where he receives a thorough examination and treatment. Six weeks later, he is back at work on a full-time basis."

This patient story has been ‘borrowed’ from the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service’s Annual Report 2018, which has just been published. It is an example of a course of action in which the patient receives good assistance on site from his family, ambulance paramedics and the helicopter emergency physician, which, supplemented with fast helicopter transport to the hospital, gives him the best possible conditions for surviving without permanent impairment. The story presents part of the explanation for the very high level of satisfaction shown in a new patient satisfaction survey for the helicopter emergency medical service.

Grateful patients

In a questionnaire survey with 642 patients who have been transported by emergency medical helicopter, as many as 100% of the patients state that their overall impression is positive. Of these, 93% answer ‘very good’ and 7% ‘good’. The patient satisfaction survey was conducted by the research and consultancy firm DEFACTUM in the Central Denmark Region. 30 patients were interviewed as part of the survey, and the patients are generally very grateful, with many of them wanting to thank and praise the helicopter crew’s work.
Chairman of Danish Regions, Stephanie Lose (the Liberal Party of Denmark), is pleased with the high level of satisfaction.
“The helicopters contribute to ensuring that people in sparsely populated areas also receive fast and competent help. It's great that patients are so satisfied,” says Stephanie Lose, and continues:
“It’s perhaps not so surprising that patients greatly appreciate the highly specialised assistance to which the emergency medical helicopters contribute. But the patients also say that they feel that they are shown respect and care. This is really a pat on the back of the employees, as these are values that we would all like to be known for.”

Better communication with patients and relatives
The results from the new survey are generally in line with the latest survey from 2015, when the service had only been in operation for a year. However, there has been a minor, but positive, development in a few areas. This applies to the question of whether the helicopter emergency physician uses a language that the patient can understand, and whether the patient is informed about what will happen during the flight.
It is hardly a coincidence that communication with patients has improved, explains Troels Martin Hansen, who is Medical Director of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.
“After the latest survey, we decided to focus on how we can become even better at preparing the patient for what will happen during the flight and how the helicopter emergency physician and the other crew members communicate optimally with the patient and relatives in these critical situations,” says Troels Martin Hansen, who is pleased that the efforts have borne fruit.

About the helicopter emergency medical service

  • The patient satisfaction survey comprises 642 patients, 510 of whom responded, equal to 79%. Patients who were not conscious and patients under 18 years of age did not participate in the survey.
  • In 2018, the three emergency medical helicopters flew a total of 3,989 missions.
  • The patient groups who were flown to treatment were especially patients with cardiovascular disease (44%), patients with neurological disease (20%) and patients with traumas (18%).
  • Many of the flights concern critically ill and injured patients in peripheral areas of Denmark, including flights to municipalities in Western Jutland, the islands and southern and western municipalities on Zealand.
  • The emergency medical helicopters are operated by the regions, and all the helicopters can operate across Denmark.
  • The three helicopters which were active in 2018 are based in Skive, Ringsted and Billund.
  • With the Finance Act Agreement for 2018, it was decided to expand the service with a fourth helicopter from January 2019, which is based at Aalborg Airport until a base at Saltum in the Municipality of Jammerbugt is ready in 2020.

Download reports:

Annual Report 2018
Patients’ experience of the helicopter emergency medical service, published in May 2019

Further information

Stephanie Lose, Chairman of Danish Regions, tel. +45 2533 0982,
Svend Hartling, Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Regions’ Emergency Medical Helicopters, tel. +45 4026 6887,
Troels Martin Hansen, Medical Director of Danish Air Ambulance, tel. +45 4019 3203,