BROOKSVILLE — At a moment’s notice, Global Jetcare Air Ambulance ICU might glide into prep mode, pack an aircraft with medical essentials, coordinate a medical team and clear the tower for takeoff.
With as many as 300 medical flights a year to destinations worldwide, the air ambulance service based in Hernando County stays alert and ready to move.
Bart Gray, owner of Global Jetcare, relies on a map where pins identify the locations his fleet of five aircraft have traveled since opening the business in 2009. Now settled into its new location, south of Spring Hill Drive and east of the Suncoast parkway, with a separate detached hanger, Global Jetcare has expanded to nearly double its original size.
Bart’s mother, Mary, runs most of the inside operations, scheduling transports as the orders come in. She finalized the return of one, a two-week excursion that flew to Houston, Australia, and Hawaii then back to Houston, to Italy and California. The crew changed nurses before heading to Singapore.
And that is a fairly normal occurrence, she said.
Global Jetcare is an air ambulance transport system that flies medically fragile patients where requested — for surgery or treatment — or home to finish out their final days as requested by their families. They have scheduled as many as three trips a day, depending on need. And they are always on high alert if a flight is needed.
Using a fleet of five planes — four Learjet Model 36s, which can fly anywhere in the world, thanks to their larger fuel tanks, and a shorter-range Learjet 35 — Global Jetcare is often in flight. And it takes precision and skill to coordinate trips, allowing for fuel stops and keeping pilots rested.
“Lately we’ve been selling trip after trip after trip,” Mary added. It isn’t uncommon to transport to a city in the U.S., like Houston, and book a trip while there to a location outside the country, such as Italy, she said.
And the reverse is true. If a trip’s destination is, say, China or Iceland, Global Jetcare will try and book a second trip either at or near that destination.
They advertise everywhere their planes touchdown, increasing the likelihood that they will sell a trip while already coordinating one.
Coordinating is one of Bart’s superpowers. He scheduled international flights to get a team of relief pilots to destinations, so trips can continue. Highlands can only be on duty for 10 hours at a time.
The staff of pilots and medics remains busy, particularly for international trips. Tara Earls, a nurse, was on the recent two-week transport. There isn’t always time to enjoy the sites, she said. But her experience has been a positive one.
“Mary asked me when I first started where I wanted to go,” said Earls. Her dream was Ireland. “I’ve already been there three or four times.”
Her favorite destination so far has been Barcelona, Spain.
While adventurous, Mary acknowledged, the job can be exhausting and stressful. Each trip packs the patient, a family member, a nurse, paramedic, two pilot, luggage and gear. It is tight inside the plan. And trips can be for longer durations where the team cannot leave.
National transports are typically a single day excursion. But international flights can get complicated. Things like Daylight Savings, that isn’t observed the same or at all in some countries, and the language barrier can cause hiccups.
About 75 percent of the transports scheduled through Global Jetcare are for patients going home to die, Mary said. “They want them back in Kuwait or China before they die.”
But the impact the company has on patients can be lifesaving. One recent client suffered two broken ankles after a parasailing adventure in India. Though not initially a patient of Global Jetcare, Bart was able to get him to Seattle, his destination, by creatively coordinating trips, international flights, and relief staff.
“We took a patient to Saskatoon, in Canada, and dropped him off. Then the crew went to Iceland to spend the night. They left Iceland and flew to Moscow for gas then to New Delhi,” Bart explained.
Meanwhile, an independent company in India had picked up the parasail victim and kept him in its clinic. Long story short, and quite a confusing trail, the patient flew with Global Jetcare from New Delhi to Seattle.
“They got to Seattle at like 4:30 in the morning and took the patient to the hospital,” Bart said.
Global Jetcare Air Ambulance ICU has five aircraft that transport medically fragile patients to destinations around the globe.
It takes a steady mind to work the dynamics of every Global Jetcare trip. Bart quotes several a day and has consistently won about 10 percent of them.
Lifesaving, meaningful medical transports are coordinated almost daily for patients of all kinds of nationalities, injuries or medically fragile conditions. And they begin and end with a Global Jetcare aircraft out of the Tampa Bay Regional Airport Hernando.
Global Jetcare Air Ambulance ICU home base is at 15421 Technology Drive. For more information, visit their website at www.globaljetcare.com. You can contact them at 352-799-7771.