US aeromedical programme Black Hills Life Flight has opened its new base at the Hot Springs Ambulance Service station with South Dakota Secretary of Health Melissa Magstadt, crew members, Air Methods leaders and nearly 50 guests.
“What you've got here is not just a 'load to go' shell (meaning simply transportation for the patient). What you have here is an entire ICU,” says Mangstadt. “Not only do you have something that gets you from point A to point B very quickly, saving lives, but it is also fully equipped with all of the modern technology and capabilities that modern medicine has to take the ICU and emergency care right to the patient, whether it is on a mountain top or down in the valleys.”
The Hot Springs base, which went into service on 7 June, joins the Black Hills Life Flight programme already established in Rapid City in South Dakota and a part of air medical provider Air Methods. It provides emergency air medical services to Fall River County and the Black Hills area. Additionally, the opening offers quicker response times for emergent and trauma situations and provides interfacility transports for patients needing specialised care.
The new airbase brings a Bell 407 helicopter, staffed with flight nurses, paramedics and pilots with years of experience in the field, as well as skilled aviation mechanics who ensure the aircraft is always safe and mission ready.
“We are committed to serving the people of this region with the best trained crews and safest aircraft in the industry and are honoured that Secretary Magstadt came today to support us in this mission,” says Air Methods account executive Darryl Crown. “We appreciate her commitment to Black Hills Life Flight and to the health of our citizens. Residents of Fall River County and the surrounding area can trust Black Hills Life Flight to provide exceptional emergency care while transporting them safely.”
A unique partnership exists between Black Hills Life Flight and Hot Springs Ambulance Service. While air medical providers and ambulance services typically work closely together, they don't often work out of the same facility.
“Our service has worked a long time to have this vital resource return to Hot Springs,” says Jacki Conlon, director of operations for Hot Springs Ambulance Service. “When time is of the essence, critical patients will have a much greater survival rate by having Black Hills Life Flight available, especially in very rural areas where the transport time to a definitive treatment centre is much longer.”