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New medical helicopter to increase response time PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 10:30

With the North Colorado Med Evac air medical transport program adding a third Bell 407 medical helicopter, residents of northeastern Colorado will be able to receive medical attention in an emergency much more quickly.

Med-Trans Corp. and North Colorado Medical Center, a Banner Health facility, recently announced that the aircraft and medical flight crew will be based at the Colorado Plains Regional Airport in Akron. It will begin operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, effective Jan. 16, 2014.

The North Colorado Med Evac program currently has two helicopters, one located at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and one based at the Erie Municipal Airport in Erie. These air medical programs transport patients on Bell 407 helicopters designed to facilitate optimal patient care.

“It is going to be a lot quicker,” Melissa Memorial Hospital Administrator John Ayoub said of the third helicopter’s close proximity. “In a scenario where every minute counts, it could be 30-35 minutes closer, and I think that is a big deal.”

Ayoub added, “You never know when an emergency is going to happen, but you want to be prepared when it does. With the helicopters being closer, I think it is really going to be a benefit for the patients. They need to get to the definitive level of care as quickly as possible.”

Tom Rohlfs, V.P. of business development for Med-Trans Corporation, stated, “North Colorado Med Evac has done an incredible job serving the region and providing critical care to patients throughout the Front Range area as well as to northeastern Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and northwest Kansas.

“The additional location allows North Colorado Med Evac to continue providing an indispensable service that will greatly benefit patients in eastern Colorado counties with an even more timely medical response when time is of the essence.”

Previously known as AirLife of Greeley, North Colorado Med Evac recently celebrated the anniversary of its 32nd year of service. Known for its excellence in safety, the flight teams have completed over 18,000 incident-free flights since the first flight in 1982.

“We are recognized as an industry leader in safety and clinical care,” said Daniel Beckle, North Colorado Med Evac’s program manager. “The North Colorado Med Evac staff and crew will be able to work even more closely with hospitals and first-responder services throughout eastern Colorado, western Kansas and southwest Nebraska. This is really a win-win opportunity for all involved.”

John Gardner, chief executive officer of the Yuma District Hospital, noted, “The addition of this third Med Evac helicopter is going to have a significant impact on achieving life-saving interventions, particularly for stroke and cardiac events, for the residents of northeastern Colorado.”

During strokes or cardiac events, blood clots can prevent blood from delivering oxygen to parts of the body. In these instances, the areas of the body not receiving blood will begin to die. With every minute being crucial to the patient’s survival, MMH is now even more prepared to handle emergencies.

Over the summer, MMH purchased a stroke robot to further help in emergencies. The stroke robot allows a CT scan of the brain to be immediately taken and examined by a neurologist at Swedish Medical Center in Denver who is able to interact and communicate with the patient and staff in the room in Holyoke. Before the patient is taken on the helicopter, the process of treating the stroke is already under way.

“If time is of the essence, we don’t mess around,” Ayoub said. “We get a helicopter to get the patient to where they need to be. Having the helicopter start closer shaves quite a bit of time.”

Ayoub commended the community and expressed his appreciation for the City of Holyoke and Scholl Oil for further helping decrease the amount of time needed to get a patient treatment. When the helicopter lands, fuel trucks arrive at the hospital to fill up the helicopter while waiting for patients to be loaded. Ayoub said this act can save several minutes as the helicopter crew will not have to make an additional stop for fuel.

“I think it speaks of the great attitude of the people that live around here,” Ayoub said. “We have a fantastic community. They are willing to take it upon themselves; they’re under no obligation to do this, but they take it upon themselves to come out to the hospital and refuel the helicopter so they can save 10-15 minutes for that patient. I think that is awesome and they should be recognized for that.”

In 2012 alone, more than 70 patients were taken by helicopter from MMH.

The aircrafts are equipped with state-of-the-art safety equipment and features, such as night vision goggles, radar altimeters, GPS navigation, satellite tracking and communications, and helicopter terrain alert warning systems. The familiar red, white and blue color scheme will be continued on the new aircraft.

Each helicopter carries a medical flight crew consisting of a pilot, a registered nurse and a paramedic. Staff members are trained to provide superior clinical care. A total of four full-time pilots, four registered nurses, four paramedics, four part-time clinical staff and one aircraft mechanic will be added to the existing Med Evac staff to serve the new Akron-based aircraft.

“The Med Evac program’s medical staff provides continuing education for EMS providers in our service area, exceptional emergency and critical patient care and community outreach programs,” said Rick Sutton, chief executive officer of Banner Health Northern Colorado. “Our relationship with the dedicated and exceptional EMS agencies, dispatch personnel and hospital staff in this area is highly valued. We look forward to continuing our relationships while serving them on an expanded basis.”

CAMTS-accredited since 1996, North Colorado Med Evac offers helicopter air ambulance services to North Colorado Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Denver, Denver Health Hospital and Boulder Community Hospital, as well as other regional hospitals.

Holyoke Enterprise November 28, 2013