Avera Medical Minute AMcK: New Avera Careflight helicopter takes flight July 1

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Avera Careflight has added a new helicopter to its fleet. Its first flight will be July 1.

“It’s kind of the Cadillac of the aircraft for us. It’s big. It’s huge. A lot of crews are honestly almost envious that we have so much room to perform critical care on our patients. We don’t have to deviate our care due to the size of the interior for them,” said Anna Vanden Bosch, Avera Careflight clinical care manager.

Vanden Bosch says adding a new helicopter to Avera’s fleet will only improve patient care.

“More patients will be able to be touched. Right now we have had down time and stuff like that but now we’ll virtually have no down time for our patients. So if you call Careflight, you will get an aircraft and we’ll be in service for them, being able to pick up more call volume because of that,” said Vanden Bosch.

Avera Careflight will not have two helicopters ready at a moment’s notice to care for patients near and far.

“That out of hospital time, we try to decrease as much as we can and, say if you’re having a heart attack or stroke or something like that, it’s just wonderful to be able to get them to that point of care, that highest level of care that they need so they have the highest level of outcome that they would need. So decreasing that, virtually having an ICU in the sky is what we have. We have all the medications, everything that you would need say in a bedside ICU here at our main campus hospital in this aircraft, we can do that here as well. We can take specialty teams in here so if we need an additional caretaker for neonatal team or say a respiratory therapist or O.B. nurse, we could take them on here as well,” said Vanden Bosch.

“I really enjoy that the flying is for a purpose,” said Sean Ihnen, Avera Careflight chief helicopter pilot.

Ihnen says this new helicopter is one of the most technically advanced in its series.

“It has plenty of power, everything has backups, it’s got lots of, I call them toys, it’s got electronic flight bags, it’s got synthetic vision, it’s got four-axis auto pilots, everything a pilot actually wants. It also has synthetic vision -- so even if you’re flying in the clouds when we go far, you can actually still see the terrain, you can still see the runways, you can still see all the obstacles and anything that could possibly be a safety hazard, still on the ground even though you can’t see it,” said Ihnen.

The addition of the new helicopter will only add to Avera Careflight’s ability to care for patients in the sky.

The helicopter currently in operation will be stationed in Aberdeen once the new helicopter is in service.