Sunday, June 12, 2016

Air Evac Lifeteam: When seconds count

John Bryan, one of four pilots on the Air Evac Lifeteam staff, makes sure an air conditioner keeps the inside of their Bell 206 rescue helicopter cool while on standby. Constant climate control is necessary due to medicines and other sensitive supplies on board.

 John Bryan, one of four pilots on staff at Air Evac Lifeteam, shows the inside of their Bell 206 rescue helicopter.

In a medical emergency every second is critical, possibly the difference between life and death. 

Those seconds count even in rural areas with limited medical resources. That’s why transportation that can slash time is vital to a person’s survival. 

One such mode of transportation seeing a remarkable increase in emergency usage are helicopters. According to the Federal Aviation Administration there are currently 75 air ambulance companies that operate approximately 1,515 helicopters in the United States.

Air Evac Lifeteam is one of those companies. When not in the air, a red, white and blue Major Bell 206 can be seen sitting on a helipad on Robert C. Byrd Drive near Hometown Subaru.

As Elizabeth Hammons, program director for the local Air Evac team, explained, the helicopter and crew — pilot, nurse and paramedic — transport people to medical centers around the region, often after being stabilzed at a local hospital.

Hammons and Mary Rader, membership sales manager, refused to release figures on how many flights the local Air Evac flies annually. The company has 130 bases in 15 states, while its parent company Air Medical Group Holding has 240 bases in 32 states.

Pilot John Bryan said helicopters have advantages over other forms of transportation when seconds count – they fly in a straight line and traffic isn’t a problem.

He explained Air Evac stresses training for its crew members, including landing at night and in difficult situations. 

“I never worked for a company that encouraged us to train so much,” said Bryan, who has flown medical helicopters for three decades.

Hammons added all flight crew members have advanced training and skills in their field. The local crew consists of four pilots, four full-time nurses, four full-time paramedics and three part-time crew members. Also, there is a full-time mechanic to keep the helicopter operating, she said.

Rader said becoming a member of Air Evac saves money and lives. With membership there is zero out-of-pocket cost, because what insurance pays is what the company accepts, she said.

“By purchasing a membership, it’s not only supports the community you live in, but provides medical care you need when you need it. But we also protect the finances of you and your loved one,” she said.

A year’s membership is $65.

Original article can be found here:

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