16 November 2009


The phone rings and I answer...
"Weather check for XXXX coming back into XXXX."
"We can do that."
"Then your flight is a go. You will meet the ambulance there carrying a thirteen year old female victim of a fall."

We take off and get pointed in the right direction. I dial the waypoint for XXXX hospital into the GPS...
"Base, this is XXXX 3."
"XXXX 3, your ambulance contact is 4 Edward XX on XXXXXX. They were enroute from Littletown to (Children's Hospital) with their patient who is now experiencing unbearable pain."

"Roger. Our ETA to XXXX is now 14 minutes."
"Roger that."

Two minutes pass...
"XXXX 3 this is base."
"This is XXXX 3, go ahead base."
"The ambulance now indicates they'll arrive at XXXX fifteen minutes after your arrival."

It takes a minute for this to register.
If this patient needs to be transported by helicopter, why are we wasting that fifteen minutes?
"Base, this is XXXX 3."
"XXXX 3, go ahead."
"Call XXXX ambulance service back and see if there is somewhere along their route we can meet them to save time, please."
"Roger. Standby."

While my base is doing that I change frequencies on my Wulfsberg radio and try to contact the ambulance directly...
"4 Edward XX this is XXXX 3, over."
A few seconds silence, then, with siren in the background we hear, "XXXX 3 this is 4 Edward XX, go ahead."

"Is there anywhere we can meet you along your route to save a few minutes here?"
"We are just coming into the city limits of XXXXXXX now. There is a High School parking lot where you can land. Are you familiar?"

Now we are seeing the lights of the ambulance in the distance...
"We see you now. We'll follow you to the landing area."

And we do. The landing at the High School is accomplished between light standards in the parking lot next to the football field. There is loose gravel all over the lot that kicks up more dust than I expected as we land, but it's not of serious concern.
My crew moves to the ambulance while I secure the aircraft and get out to keep others from approaching the tail. Eight minutes later the crew loads the patient and we takeoff and fly 23 minutes to the receiving hospital... a distance that would have taken the ambulance an hour, easily.

After the flight I learn...
This 13 year old female was playing in an abandoned warehouse with friends (at night!) and fell through the roof fifteen feet to the concrete floor below. She has broken legs and other traumatic injuries, but her head is apparently okay, thank goodness.

Did my decision to not wait fifteen minutes for the ambulance to arrive at the original destination make a difference? I don't know.

But my thought was, "If she needs the helicopter, why not use it in the most efficient way possible?"

This is why I LOVE scene flights!


cj said...

Between light standards near a football field.

I swear, if I ever need to be medivaced, I want you at the controls.


Erik said...

Hi, My name is Erik. I've been following your blog for quite some time now. I am currently completing my WOFT packet for the Army. Someday, I hope to fly for a helicopter EMS company in my area. It is posts like these that really give me the inspiration to continue my packet. Thanks.

Greybeard said...

Good for you Erik!
For explanation to others, "WOFT" is "Warrant Officer Flight Training".
Correct me if I'm wrong Erik, but you'll go to Basic Training, then you'll start preflight at Ft. Rucker, right?
And if you successfully complete your preflight stage, you'll actually strap yourself into a helicopter and start learning that skill, if memory serves.
Thank you sir, for volunteering to protect the rest of us. I salute you.

cary said...

Erik - than you for your service!

GB - I second cj's thoughts - I want you to be the pilot should I ever need the services of an EMS chopper.

Always thinking, and thinking fast on your feet (seat?). My hat is off to you, sir!