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I see medical emergency helicopters taking off and landing several times a day from the hospital near my office. As I understand from an earlier question, they are probably flying VFR, below controlled airspace and likely without ADS-B.

I would assume, however, that these flights are in touch with the local ATC, and they are certainly announcing their presence on the locally monitored channel(s). Is there a particular set of call signs or other indicators that are used by these flights to indicate to other traffic that, while this flight itself is not in any sort of mayday situation, it needs priority handling and that everyone else needs to get out of the way as lives depend on the speed of this particular flight?

I am asking particularly for the USA/FAA, but would be interested to know if there are differences in other countries around the world.

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The variety of callsigns used for medical flights are covered in the AIM 4-2-4:

b. Air Ambulance Flights.

Because of the priority afforded air ambulance flights in the ATC system, extreme discretion is necessary when using the term “MEDEVAC.” It is only intended for those missions of an urgent medical nature and to be utilized only for that portion of the flight requiring expeditious handling. When requested by the pilot, necessary notification to expedite ground handling of patients, etc., is provided by ATC; however, when possible, this information should be passed in advance through non−ATC communications systems.

  1. Civilian air ambulance flights responding to medical emergencies (first call to an accident scene, carrying patients, organ donors, organs, or other urgently needed lifesaving medical material) will be expedited by ATC when necessary. When expeditious handling is necessary, include the word “MEDEVAC” in the flight plan per paragraphs 5−1−8 and 5−1−9. In radio communications, use the call sign“MEDEVAC,” followed by the aircraft registration letters/numbers. EXAMPLE− MEDEVAC Two Six Four Six.
  2. Similar provisions have been made for the use of “AIR EVAC” and “HOSP” by air ambulance flights, except that these flights will receive priority handling only when specifically requested.
  3. Air carrier and air taxi flights responding to medical emergencies will also be expedited by ATC when necessary. The nature of these medical emergency flights usually concerns the transportation of urgently needed lifesaving medical materials or vital organs. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE COMPANY/PILOT DETERMINE, BY THE NATURE/URGENCY OF THE SPECIFIC MEDICAL CARGO, IF PRIORITY ATC ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED. Pilots must include the word “MEDEVAC” in the flight plan per paragraphs 5−1−8 and 5−1−9, and use the call sign “MEDEVAC,” followed by the company name and flight number for all transmissions when expeditious handling is required. It is important for ATC to be aware of “MEDEVAC” status, and it is the pilot’s responsibility to ensure that this information is provided to ATC. EXAMPLE− MEDEVAC Delta Thirty−Seven.
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    $\begingroup$ This is age old, but this phrase "and to be utilized only for that portion of the flight requiring expeditious handling" just caught my attention. Which part of a flight would not require expeditious handling? Going to pick up a patient? It's still urgent that they get there as minutes do matter. Or does that refer to a non-emergency, repositioning/training/otherwise flight performed by an air ambulance? $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 1 at 12:18
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The US call sign is "MEDEVAC." It used to be "LIFEGUARD," but was changed in 2012 as part of the transition to ICAO flight plans, which suggests that "MEDEVAC" could be a standard (though I'm not sure if it is).

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In Boston, where I live, medivacs use custom call signs that they pick for themselves. Medflight uses the generic "Med One", "Med Two", "Med Three". "Lifeflight" that is run by the University of Massachusetts uses "Lifeflight" as their callsign. Northern Massachusetts is covered by the Dartmouth Hitchcock Advanced Response Team. They use "DHART".

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I little off base, but when I flew air ambulances in Southern Louisiana, where helicopter traffic is extremely heavy because of oil field and offshore use, I used the personal call sign "Savior 6" as a personal moniker. I was an RN and Paramedic. Helicopter call signs were known to be Aircare and Acadian Ambulance's AIRMED.

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"Helimed" is the most common callsign for U.K. air ambulances, e.g. Helimed 42.

When not on an emergency call or when returning to base, they would use an abbreviated callsign, e.g. Hotel Mike 42.

They also usually operate as Special VFR flights, meaning they can fly using instruments and ATC vectors if required and they will be in touch with ATC at all times, mainly for traffic avoidance (other aircraft are moved to allow the ambulance clear passage).

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! $\endgroup$ – Pondlife May 29 '17 at 13:27

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