Monday, October 09, 2017

Colleton County, South Carolina: State-of-the-art medical helicopter, first of its kind in state

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCIV) — The sky is the limit for high-tech emergency care in Colleton County. It's the only program of its kind in the state. It’s an integrated medical care system for rural areas.

Stationed in a secure area at Colleton Medical Center, a state-of-the-art helicopter is ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Flight paramedic Trae Wright and pilot Simon Enrich check the aircraft before and after their shift. It’s called Careflight --- an acronym for Colleton Air Rescue Evac.

"This aircraft is by far the Cadillac of all aircraft. It's stable. It’s very smooth. It’s got plenty of power," explained Wright.

Launched on June 15, Careflight goes to the far reaches of Colleton County. With more than 11-hundred square miles to cover, its designed to pick up patients who are critically injured or ill.

Trae Wright is trained to treat those who need urgent medical care.

"This brings the trauma center to the patient. And we're an extension of every hospital. This is a flying emergency room," Wright said.

He says Careflight is the best way to handle emergency medical needs in rural areas of Colleton, Beaufort, and Jasper counties.

"No traffic light needed. You know, straight shot to an ER. Or specialty center such as the burn center or a cardiac care center or the trauma center. Whichever one we have to go to. And it gives that patient that much more time," he said.

The helicopter is owned by Med-Trans of Texas. That's why Colleton County Fire Rescue officials say the Careflight program is the only one of its kind in South Carolina.

"This is a private company so it doesn't cost the taxpayers any money. They bill insurance companies or they bill patients so the county isn't investing any money in it," said Chief Barry McRoy of Colleton County Fire Rescue.

The agency provides six officers who can fly on Careflight.

"We provide the helicopter, the mechanics, the pilots, and the flight nurses. And then we partner with the county to supply the firefighter paramedics that are on board the aircraft," said Henry Ward, strategic operations director for Med-Trans.

It’s a partnership for a program designed to bring life-saving treatment to far away areas.

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