Helicopter based at area hospital

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Roosevelt General Hospital now has AeroCare during the day, allowing the facility to transport patients to Lubbock in a timely manner.

According to RGH administrator James D’Agostino, the helicopter is based at the hospital on a temporary basis. During the day, Aerocare is on site and at night the crew and helicopter return to Lubbock. The hospital uses the AeroCare helicopter four to seven times per week on average, he said.

“We’re very, very happy to have them here. Having them here saves life and saves time,” D’Agostino said.

Wednesday’s crew that was on site included pilot Dennis Baker, flight nurse Shirley Scholz, and flight paramedic Kristi Doty.

From Portales, the crew can have a patient transported to the Lubbock facility within 40 to 45 minutes, depending on the wind, said Baker.

“In some case, that 45 minutes to one hour can be pretty critical,” Scholz said.

Once a call goes out, the crew retrieves their equipment from the helicopter. Once in the Emergency Room, they receive the report from the nurses, change IV’s and other necessary equipment and transfer the patient to the stretcher. The crew is generally able to have the patient ready for transport within a 30-minute time frame, said Scholz.

“The folks here in the ER always do an excellent job getting the patients ready,” Scholz said.

The crew can also respond to accidents outside the hospital scene such as industrial, trauma, or a farming/ranching accident. They have the ability to reach scenes that are remote or may not be reachable by ambulance, Scholz said.

“Whenever they have something severe going on, and time can be of the essence, that is certainly something we can save on,”Scholz said.

The MD 902 helicopter features a twin engine and equipment that allows the pilot to navigate through the skies at about 145 m.p.h.

On-board equipment includes a satellite tracking system and can also let the pilot know locations of other aircraft in the area are flying and if and where lightning is striking.

“These aircraft are very well equipped as far as a helicopter goes,” Baker said.

Referred to as an emergency room on skids by the crew, the helicopter features include a heart monitor, blood pressure equipment, an EKG, suction and packs that contain medications, according to the crew.

Though the crew prefers not to share all they have seen and experienced, they remain dedicated to providing quick, competent and efficient service.

“I think satisfaction in knowing that you are bringing quality care to a rural area that needs a quick response, that’s a good feeling,” Doty said.