We had contingency plans for air travel, ambulance transport and driving ourselves. We ended up having enough time to drive the six hours to the transplant center.
I said “driving ourselves,” but actually my brother was on board to help with the driving when “the call” came. Needless to say, this trip was one of the most emotional experiences of our lives. I ended up driving the whole way, but having a back up driver in the car with us took some pressure off and probably was a good safety factor as well. As you are investigating transportation alternatives, it would be wise to develop a list of alternate drivers.
I contacted the State Police to ask about either an escort or having our license plate on record so that we wouldn’t be stopped. They advised simply to follow the speed limit and drive carefully. They said studies show that police escorts cause more accidents (because of curious onlookers) than they prevent. In addition, we would cross too many county borders to have our license plate on record with all the patrols we might encounter. It was recommended, however, that we have a letter from the Center’s social worker so that, in the event we were pulled over, we had documentation proving our urgent destination. We were also advised to call about any potential construction delays on our route.
Because I come from an aviation family, I had some connections with air transport companies. If you don’t have that luxury, the internet is a helpful source for medical transportation by air. I also found that once I started calling around, one company would recommend another. I kept track of who I called and their contact information, so it was easy to track and decide who to use in the event we needed their services.
For the air transport contingency, we lined up multiple options in the event that one company’s plane was unavailable at the time we called. We made arrangements with the following companies:
- Angel Flight NE, 800-549-9980 (this requires advance preparations for paperwork, but the service is little to no cost to you)
- Mercy Flight, Canandaigua, 585-396-0584
- First Flight, 607-562-4600 or 800-200-8844