"You are enroute to the scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident- a head-on collision. Two fatalities on the scene. **** * (another of our company's helicopter ambulances), is already on scene. Your patient is a 40 year old woman. They are extricating her from the wreckage. That's all the information we have at this time."
The scene was less than 15 minutes away. Visibility was unlimited, so the only thing that kept us from seeing the scene from our takeoff point was the treeline between us and the accident. I contacted the scene commander:
"Please give us a patient update at your convenience, and let me know where you want me to park this thing."
He responded, "We'd like you to land West of the scene in a cornfield. One of my officers is standing in the field with a flashlight shining it vertically. Let me know when you see him."
Cornfield? I needed more info-
"Understand I'm landing in a cornfield West of the scene. Has the crop been harvested in this field?"
"How much residue am I gonna kick up with my rotorwash upon landing?"
Long, long pause....... It's obvious he hadn't considered that.......
"Yeah, that's gonna be rough. Let me send a guy down to clear some cars out of the way so you can land on the highway."
By this time I was within range for our other company helicopter to contact me. He called-
"**** *, why don't you just land behind me? I think there's plenty of room."
I contacted the scene commander, and he approved that plan.
The landing zone was tight, but adequate for both helicopters and I landed one-and-a-half rotor diameters from the other BK117.
Shortly after I landed and got my crew on the way to help, the crew to the other BK came with their patient, and since the scene was nicely secured by the police, I was able to help them load their patient. I watched with pride as the other helicopter took off. My crew came back to the helicopter about 5 minutes later. The flight to the Trauma Center took 15 minutes. My crew was too busy to make the radio call to the hospital, so I made the call on the "mercy" frequency and informed the receiving hospital of our ETA, and gave them general information about our patient and her condition.
The flying part proceeded normally. We landed, I helped my crew unload the patient, then cooled and shut the engines down prior to going into the ER. They were doing CPR on our patient when I walked in. They pronounced her dead 15 minutes later.
She had just left home. The accident was close enough to her home that her daughter heard the crash and ran to the scene.
I'm glad my landing site was far enough from the scene that I didn't get to watch the daughter as her Mother was extricated from the wreckage and loaded onto our stretcher. Now, in spite of our best efforts, her Mother is gone.
These scenes bring such mixed emotions:
They are exciting. I can say honestly that they are the closest thing to flying in Combat I have experienced as a civilian.
And.....remember I mentioned the pride I felt,
watching the other helicopter leave the scene?
I taught that pilot to fly helicopters 16 years ago!