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A KEY PLAYER


Using its three bases plus the LeeFlight and LifeNet 5 bases, Bayflite’s roster of 75-80 pilots, flight medics, flight nurses, maintenance technicians, and administrative staff provide intra- hospital/scene-hospital AMS coverage throughout west-central Florida. “We are split about 60/40 between intra-hospital and scene transport flights,” Turner said. “Our AMS area covers about three million residents in 15 counties.” The service flies about 2,600 patients annually, and by 2011 (the last time an official tally was done) had flown 50,000 patients in total.


Bayflite’s three H135s (formerly EC-135s), and two H135s flown by LeeFlight and LifeNet 5, are IFR- and NVG-capable. “Although our bases are not utilizing IFR, we do rely on night vision goggles for many of our operations at night overland, and overwater,” Turner said. “Being in Florida, you can count on doing a lot of overwater flights to move patients efficiently.”


These Air Methods’ helicopters are equipped with modern medical technology. Their onboard equipment includes end-tidal CO2 monitors, intravenous infusion pumps, LUCAS portable chest- compression systems, portable ECG and pulse oximeter monitors, transport isolettes, plus ventilators for neonatal, pediatric, and adult patients. “As well, we are authorized to carry blood and blood plasma on our aircraft,” Turner said. Bayflite was the first Florida AMS to be granted this right. “When we arrive at an automotive accident scene, our flight crew can begin administering blood and plasma right in the car. We really bring the trauma center right to the accident scene.”


In terms of personnel, each Bayflite helicopter is crewed by a pilot, a critical care flight medic, and a critical care flight nurse. “We’ve


found that the skills of flight medics and flight nurses complement each other very effectively,” Turner said. “Flight medics have the ‘street level’ approach that allows them to deal with trauma head- on, while flight nurses add a depth of knowledge and skill that enhances treatment in their aircraft heading to the hospital. It’s a very good life-saving mix.”


According to Bayflite, its AMS crews can treat multisystem traumas in adults and children; advanced cardiac-care cases (including intra-aortic balloon pump patients); and people suffering from serious burns, strokes, and obstetric crises. Whatever their injury/ illness, all patients are flown to the nearest appropriate receiving facility, whether Bayflite/Air Methods has a partnership or affiliation with them or not.


Two points worth noting: First, Bayflite transports patients regardless of their ability to pay. Second, Bayflite’s ‘weather minimums,’ which dictate whether the service will take or reject a call in poor flying conditions, are stricter than the FAA’s mandated minimums. “We set tougher weather minimums to protect the safety of our crews,” Turner said.


As for Bayflite relying exclusively on Airbus Helicopters’ H135s, Turner cannot say enough about this helicopter’s AMS capabilities. “The H135 is an industry workhorse,” he explained. “It has the power, range, and capacity to work well in Florida’s hot and wet weather conditions. Not only does the H135 have the room we need to carry our personnel and patients, but its reliability makes us comfortable about sending them on overwater missions. That’s not something we could do with a lower powered, less reliable AMS helicopter.”


42


Sep/Oct 2017


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