Edward J. Naughton
BJ Tyner, area manager for LifeSave Transport with Air Methods, a Colorado-based company, and Rick Wallace, CEO of HPMC, used a pair of giant scissors to cut a groundbreaking ribbon July 15 for a new medical helicopter Airbus which will be parked at the Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City.
“We are very excited to re-engage the partnership we have with the Western Plains Medical Complex in southwestern Kansas and this is the perfect machine for many years to come,” Tyner said.
Over 100 emergency first responders, crew pilots and support personnel, hospital staff and members of the transport company LifeSave Air Methods and media gathered to view the European-made Airbus helicopter with night vision goggles for use by the pilot or crew, the helicopter’s terrain awareness system, and other warning and data systems that will safely access situations in three or four different states, including Kansas .
Tyner said the aircraft, officially designated LifeSave 22, now based at Dodge, marks an exciting new era in southwestern Kansas emergency airlift, bolstering essential emergency medical air services in this region. region.
The LifeSave22 helicopter will be able to land by the side of the road to recover a patient with severe injuries and trauma from a road accident, or can help rescue a struggling patient with severe stroke symptoms in need of a blood thinner in a hurry. This boat will even be able to access remote areas and canyons in complete safety.
“We depend on this type of transportation for our community, it’s very important, not only to Dodge and Ford County, but also to the people of Kansas living within a 75 to 100 mile radius,” Wallace said. . “We want to be able to provide this type of service and the only way to do that is through LifeSave Transport. “
After the ribbon cutting for the open house, those in attendance were invited to take a close look at the sleek and advanced design features of the state-of-the-art aircraft. Air crew personnel, including pilots, flight nurses and EMS technicians, were available to answer questions and many informal discussions took place in small groups near the craft, and friendly exchanges between the crew and visitors present.
“This Airbus helicopter is reliable, fast and can land safely over many types of terrain even when only limited space to land the craft is available, for example along national roads where the helicopter crew can being responsible for picking up, stabilizing and transporting a single trauma patient with severe trauma-related injuries to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita for example, ”said pilot Alex Marshall.
The equipment on board will be similar to that of the local ground emergency response units, such as a ventilator, cardiac defibrillator, life-saving breathing apparatus, suction tube, tracheal tubes, IV pumps and emergency drugs.
When a service is required for transportation to major hospitals, for example to Denver or Kansas City, or even to the Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, LifeSave Transport ground paramedics are now available to meet these urgent needs.
Dalton Williams and Kira Galloway are highly trained EMS technicians who provide ground ambulance services for LifeSave Transport. Benito Sotelo, a well-trained flight nurse working for LifeSave Transport, had spent three years in this type of air transport specialty, and knows the adrenaline that rises while performing his on-board duties as the Airbus medical helicopter can travel very quickly to ‘at around 130 mph to save a life in an emergency.
“Anything we can’t do here at Dodge with regards to a head injury or neurological event, we can get the patient from here to Dodge at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 1 hour and 10 minutes,” said Sotelo.
Customer service representatives from LifeSave and Air Methods set up a tent at the grand opening and handed out cold drinks, coffee and cakes to guests, but more importantly spoke to people concerned about the costs. high levels of medical air travel and how many families might be asked to pay as a result of such a service provided to their loved one.
An information sheet available at the event outlines the benefits and costs, as well as how the company has dealt with issues and complaints from the past by listening to the patients themselves.
The average disbursement for patients who work with Air Methods as part of the Kansas Patient Advocacy Program is $ 159 per patient, depending on their insurance plan. This type of customer service initiative takes into account that each patient has unique financial perspectives to manage, which is why Air Methods works with the affected patient to achieve a more reasonable balance due which is largely based on their ability to pay.
As there is still a percentage of patients without insurance to cover their emergency transportation needs, and as air medical bills increase costs for everyone involved, Air Methods is working to always do good to patients who need help the most. They have a toll free number that helps answer questions – 855-896-9067.
This re-engagement with the LifeSave Transport / Air Methods and High Plains Medical Complex partnership gives Southwest Kansas a welcome alliance to rely on to provide emergency transportation, as requirements include many square kilometers of coverage area which, luckily, also includes a designated intensive care unit. places like Kansas City; Amarillo, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Denver, Colorado. Thus, the capabilities of this aircraft extend beyond southwestern Kansas where appropriate, depending on operations, and even in coordination with other craft, including fixed-wing medical aircraft stationed in other parts of Kansas.
The helicopter is an Airbus aircraft built in Europe and has met exacting high performance standards through rigorous testing and development. This AS350 / H125 is an advanced design and aerodynamically efficient helicopter that can reach speeds of up to 130 mph according to one of the crew members present for the static demonstration at Dodge City.