If you were in an accident and time was of the essence for you to get emergency care, you would want to arrive at the hospital in the safest manner possible. The flight crew of Careflight says you will if you ride with them.
Avera McKennan added an EC145 helicopter and put it into operation as part of the Careflight fleet in late May. The flight crew and their patients on board have never been in such good hands in the air.
Avera McKennan Clinical Educator and Flight Registered Nurse Lonny Heinemann says, "Oh absolutely! It has the nicest and newest technology and is one of the safest aircrafts on the market right now."
There are always two crews on staff at Avera McKennan at any given point, one for the fixed wing aircraft that's housed at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and one for the helicopter. They typically get called out everyday 2 to 3 times. When they aren't in route, they assist in the Emergency Department or in the Critical Care Unit. A standard Careflight crew is made up of 3 people: a pilot, RN and a paramedic. All are specially trained in flight and must have critical care experience
Lonny says, "It has the latest and greatest warning systems and weather reporting systems. It can advise you of any bad weather coming your way or other aircraft.
Flight RN's Lonny Heinemann and Markie Van't Hul also like the extra space this chopper has for them to work on the patient. It's also equipped with the latest medical equipment strapped next to gurney.
Lonny says, "The medic or RN can slide their seat back and be working on the patient and the other is at the head of the patient so we have a total assessment view of the patient at all times. I also want to tell you this helicopter has technology on it that tells you how close you are to the ground, other objects, buildings, trees. It constantly tells you what's out there."
Since the crew typically doesn't know what they are going to run in to when they are called out to an emergency situation, at least they know they are going to arrive in the safest machine out there.