An Entrepreneurial Spirit Soars
Canadian Nurse Magazine – Nurse to Know Series – January 2011
by David McDonald
Despite a fear of flying, Gail Courneyea found her passion and began her own aeromedical transport service. It was not something Gail Courneyea wanted to hear. One day in 1986, she went into the Peterborough, Ont., hospital where she worked as a critical care nurse and was told she’d be accompanying a patient on a flight to Toronto. “I would have been happy to stay with my feet planted firmly on the ground for the rest of my life,” she confesses. “I had a real fear of flying.”
Remarkably, Courneyea’s resolve to confront her fear that day would lead to the creation of a diverse, multimillion-dollar medical transport business. But that was perhaps the furthest thought from her mind as the small, underequipped plane trundled down the runway at Peterborough Airport….
To read the rest of the story, go to https://www.canadian-nurse.com/en/articles/issues/2011/january-2011/an-entrepreneurial-spirit-soars
Our history started on the International level, then progressed to Domestic air ambulance flights…a slight twist of normal business development. Angels of Flight Canada was founded in 1988 with its first air ambulance flight on January 13, 1989. This was an air ambulance flight to Boston Mass. with two air medical critical care registered nurses providing medical care. Thus began our frequent air ambulance flights from Souther USA to Canada in the winter and across Canada in the summer. Since that time Anges of Flights Canada Inc. has flown to over 115 countries worldwide providing air ambulance repatriation and commercial airline medical escorts.
In 1989, the company implemented its flight nursing program for registered nurses flying on air ambulances and providing medical care on commercial airline flights. Started in 1993 and continuing today, Exodus Studies is the education and training division of Angels of Flight Canada. Exodus Studies offers many different air medical, travel and tourism, health and flight safety related educational programs and training opportunities through our web based online learning system.
In September 2007, we organized a two day, very successful conference “The New ERA Conference – challenges of in-flight safety” at the Kingsbridge Conference Centre, King City, Ontario. Guest speakers and attendees came from around the globe to share knowledge, experience and skills to enhance safety in the air medical field.
A significant milestone was accomplished in 1990 when Angels of Flight signed the first contract to work directly with Ontario hospitals by coordinating their air ambulance flights through the Ministry of Health Air Ambulance Centre. We also provided flight trained registered nurses to hospitals and province to care for their critical care and trauma patients on both helicopters and air ambulances being moved to tertiary centres.
In 1991, the company expanded its operations opening an office at Toronto Island Airport and operational bases in Northern & Southern Ontario – Red Lake, Dryden, Sault St. Marie, Timmins, Sudbury and Peterborough.
Angels of Flight expanded their scope of service provision in 1995 by launching the operation of a non-emergent ground patient transportation service to provide private patient transportation and to ensure timely arrivals and departures to and from airports. During this time, we operated bases in Oshawa…serving the Durham region, Markham & Newmarket…serving York Region, to move patients between hospitals and to treatment or appointments from home. This service continued operations until 2015, offering clients either at home or in hospital/nursing home, an important transportation option that met their specialized medical travel requirements to and from medical appointments, treatments or facility relocation. Since 2016, our focus is on moving patients via air flights only.
In 2009, the company established a centralized base of operations in Peterborough, Ontario for air and land services along with medical case management by flight Registered Nurses. Today, this “one call” service is widely used by hospitals, insurance companies, government agencies and corporate and individual traveling clients. An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system was added to ensure security of vital data and patient records.
Recognizing the growing demand internationally for more easily accessible and cost effective medical procedures and treatments provided in other countries, Angels Global Healthcare, a medical tourism division of Angels of Flight Canada In. was formed in 2009. It’s goal was to facilitate safe and reliable access to medical services worldwide, offering personalized medical tourism services. Angels Global Healthcare became the first medical tourism provider in Canada to achieve certification as a Medical Tourism Facilitator by the Americal Medical Tourism Association.