Monthly Archives: March 2014

AFW Requesters – Frequent Comments & Questions

Angel Flight West utilizes aviation to increase health care access in order to improve health outcomes for critically ill people living within its service area.  AFW is focused on increasing requests for service, which have declined in recent years. A requester can be any individual working at a health care facility, including a doctor, nurse, or social worker. Through a survey, AFW sought to better understand social workers’ perceptions of our services and what would better increase their requests. A survey was administered to 1400 social workers and it returned at 17% response. Included in this post are some of our answers to the frequent survey comments and questions we received.

Q: Why does AFW need seven days to arrange a flight? 

  • AFW needs sufficient time to find an available volunteer pilot. Once we receive a request, the data is entered into our database system for pilots to view. It can take some time to find an available pilot on a given day as all AFW pilots are volunteers. Additionally, in most cases, we must find more than one pilot in order to cover both the trip to treatment and the return trip home.
  • For longer trips, over 300 nautical miles, we must split the flight up into a multiple leg relay – it can take up to 3 pilots to travel 800-1000 miles. In these cases, AFW could potentially be looking for six available pilots to cover a patient’s roundtrip flights.
  • Although it lowers the chances of covering flights, we are sometimes able to take shorter notice requests. We have been able to find available pilots on short notice in some cases. This is determined on a case by case basis based on the location of the flight, the number of pilots in that region, and the amount of available flights already scheduled in advance for that day.

Q: Why are you not a guaranteed service?

  • General aviation (GA) aircraft are different from commercial airliners and much more limited by weather conditions. Thunderstorms, icing conditions, and high winds are all factors that can limit a GA pilot’s ability to fly. These decisions usually cannot be made until the day before or even the day of a flight.
  • Because pilots are volunteers, there are some flights where we simply cannot find an available volunteer to fly on a given day.
  • While we are not a 100% guaranteed service, we are proud to note that we only need to cancel 10% of our flights annually. Weather and pilot availability may impact the ability to successfully complete a flight, but we are working towards alternate transportation options to utilize when these things occur.

Q: It is difficult or impossible for my client to have a backup plan. 

  • We understand that sometimes we may be the only resource available to your client. We will work on a flight up until the afternoon prior if necessary. If your patient is able to reschedule, we are always willing to try again for the next week.
  • We are also continuing to grow relationships with other transportation organizations to establish back-up plans as well as actively growing our pilot base to have increased pilot availability. We are sometimes able to book commercial airline tickets through Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines, or greyhound bus tickets. This is however, an option only available in special circumstances in limited locations.

Q: Why do I need to complete the paperwork and make the request? It is really my client that knows all of that information.

  • All AFW pilots are volunteers, which means that they donate the fully cost of flying their aircraft. Because of their generosity, AFW staff is responsible for making sure flight requests are legitimate and fit within the AFW requirements. We require financial verification of need for assistance and confirmation that a passenger is ambulatory and physically able to fly safely on a non-pressurized aircraft.
  • We can now take requests directly from passengers. In this case, we will take all of the information from the passenger and then seek medical and financial need verification from an official requester at a medical facility. We hope that this will streamline our process significantly and lessen the amount of time required for busy medical professionals.

Thank you again to all social workers who responded to this survey. We learned some very valuable information from you that will help AFW to improve our services and better the process for helping your patients!

Pilot Survey – Executive Summary

Angel Flight West is focused on increasing pilot participation, which has declined in recent years. In order to better understand your motivations to fly, your interactions with AFW, and what AFW can do to make your volunteer experience more rewarding and efficient, a survey was administered to 473 AFW Command Pilots. It returned a 66% response rate – thank you for your help!

Major findings from the study include:
  • Pilots volunteer for AFW because they want to use their flying skills as a way to give back. They believe in AFW’s mission, and feel that the organization is well-managed by staff.
  • Many pilots state that they cannot be encouraged to fly more missions, as they feel that they are flying as much as they can.
  • Recognition is not of interest to half of the pilots. For those who would like recognition, logoed merchandise is the most preferred form. Other popular acknowledgements include credit in a newsletter or newspaper, or a personalized response such as a thank you card, email, or phone call.
  • Slightly more than half of AFW pilots know others who are not willing to join the organization, primarily because of the cost of liability forms.
  • Most pilots are willing to pay AFW’s dues, but the majority would consider making a voluntary donation to support AFW operations, in lieu of dues.
  • Most pilots are interested in social events hosted by AFW, quarterly or more often.
  • Over one-third of pilots do not know who their Wing Leader is. Over half do not know what a Wing Leader is, nor what a Wing Leadership provides.

To view the full Executive Summary:  AFW Pilot Survey – Executive Summary

AFW’s First Google Hangount

Angel Flight West has released its first-ever Google Hangout! This video is the first in a series of broadcasts meant to keep you informed about what’s going on at Angel Flight, as well as to provide tips and other ideas that might be helpful. Our Google hangouts are meant to be useful for a variety of audiences, so we hope there is some information that you can share with your family, friends, or passengers. Having a conversation about Angel Flight helps spread the word so that our services can reach more people in need – the underlying goal to everything we do!
You may view the broadcast at this link: Pilot Tips. This inaugural broadcast was done by Josh Olson, currently the Director of Mission Operations at Angel Flight West. In this video, Josh discusses the new electronic waivers as well as the Phillips 66 rebate program available to AFW members. You can learn more about these topics on the Angel Flight West blog.
 Member Benefits
Most of our active members will probably tell you that the best benefit of being an Angel Flight West member is having the chance to help others in need by providing transportation.  There are, however, some tangible benefits of membership as well. This page will take you through the benefits received upon joining Angel Flight West as well as the benefits you will enjoy on an on-going basis as a member.
Electronic Waivers
AFIDS now has an electronic version of the liability waiver form. This should make the waiver process simpler and more convenient for both pilots and passengers. This blog post goes into detail about how to access the e-waiver, how to obtain signatures, and how to submit the completed waiver back to AFW. 
If you have ideas about content to include in future broadcasts we would love to hear from you! Please comment on this post to let us know what you would be interested in hearing about from our staff.