By Angel MedFlight Contributor
When you call Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance, that call is handled by one of our experienced flight coordinators. These are licensed nurses and case managers who will help coordinate the air and ground transportation you need. Jessica Merwin is one of our flight coordinators and she tells us more about her responsibilities and her keys to success.
When Merwin arrives at Angel MedFlight’s offices here in Scottsdale, Ariz., she first checks on where our jets will be flying for the day and gets the statute mileage for the upcoming flights. “When I’m on the phone with a patient or case manager, I can easily tell where all our planes are, where they’re going to be next week or the next couple of days.” Knowing where the Angel MedFlight jets are going to be situated helps Merwin give the patients an accurate price and/or availability for the medical flight.
Merwin’s knack for keeping close tabs on our aircraft helps here turn these initial calls into actual passengers. Merwin says, “When I get in and I see where the planes are going to be, ‘We’re going to have a plane in Fort Lauderdale? Oh, what about that person who called me two days ago?'” What’s her trick to recalling a detail like that? She says she just pays attention and does a good job of remembering her callers.
Another of Merwin’s tasks is making a daily stop to the aviation department to see if any planes are scheduled for maintenance and won’t be flying that day. “Instead of hearing it from other sources, I’ll go straight to Aviation West Charters Director of Operations Brandon Kearns or Maintenance Director Dwain Chase” and check on the status of an aircraft.
Merwin says she’ll take about eight calls per day from patients trying to secure a flight on an Angel MedFlight air ambulance. Not all calls will lead to actual flights but Merwin says she’s been able to book seven flights in a week and wants to increase that to 14 per week.
How a flight coordinator conducts his or herself on the initial call is very important. Merwin says, “I think if a flight coordinator can sit back and understand ‘They’re calling you. There may be every possible emotion in their voice, things are bad, so you have to make people feel comfortable.’ Just imagine that’s your brother, your sister, that’s your mom, that’s your dad. How would you want someone to speak to you? It’s all about customer service. And whether we get the flight or not, these people are in a really tough situation if they’re calling us.”
What impacts Merwin the most are the patients who may have the most difficult time getting insurance to cover a flight. She finds herself connected to the patients she talks to and she’ll do whatever it takes to help that person find the funding for transport with Angel MedFlight. “I’ve always looked at it like every patient is my own family member,” says Merwin and that means sometimes calling an insurance company “every day for two months.” From Merwin’s hard work and persistence she is able to get more insurance authorizations to go through, resulting in more successful air ambulance transports through Angel MedFlight.