On average, about 20% of our calls are to scenes........auto/motorcycle/ATV accidents, farm accidents, fires, etc..
Of course, these are interesting and exciting........you don't call the helicopter unless someone is in a life-or-death, (or loss of limb), situation.
But think what has happened by the time the phone rings to get us on the way:
The accident happens. Someone sees or hears it and calls the police, or an ambulance service.
These folks sometimes make an initial assessment of the situation over the phone and call our dispatchers to put us on standby. Dispatch calls us, and, providing the weather is flyable, tells us the location and nature of the accident.
While we are on standby, First Responders arrive on the scene.
Think of what they have to do......
People are in pain, bleeding.......possibly crying out.
Dust may still be in the air. Fuel and other fluids may make footing treacherous.
The road may be covered with other debris from the accident......
( we responded last week to an overturned pickup truck that had a bed full of construction equipment spread over 1/8th mile of two lanes of interstate highway!)
EMS needs to insure their own safety. If the accident is in the path of traffic, police need to be on scene to control approaching cars.
Of course, care providers need to wear gloves, eye protection, and other equipment as necessary as individual situations require.
How many victims and how serious? Do more ambulances/helicopters need to be called?
Our helicopters are set up to carry only one patient at a time, so if two or more people have life-threatening injuries, more helicopters will have to be launched.
Victims need to be quickly assessed for the extent of their injuries to see if the helicopter needs to be launched, or if the standby can be cancelled. They are protected from further injury. Initial care is provided.
Think of the responsibility we load on these people!
We frequently do public relations flights to meet and train EMS providers in outlying communities. We are treated like royalty when we show up at these affairs........dramatically arriving in a multi-million dollar machine, dressed in our fancy/schmancy flight suits!
I'm always a little uncomfortable at these events.......
By the time we arrive on scene, 90% of the work is done! Area secured for our landing..........obstacles identified and pointed out to us so we aren't surprised on our landing approach. Patients assessed and initial work done for us to get them on their way to the Trauma Center..........some EMS personnel even know enough to try to give us wind direction for landing!
They make it easy for us. We get the attention.......arriving in noisy, dramatic style. But I know who the true heroes are in these situations........and they don't get nearly enough credit (or compensation) for the extraordinary things they do.
Please remember these folks in your thoughts and prayers.
They truly are "Unsung Heroes"!