ALAMOGORDO, N.M., April 16, 2024 – Air Methods, the nation’s leading air medical service provider, announced today that Alamogordo Fire Department (AFD) has selected Air Methods Ascend’s EMS Review online program to provide continuing education to first responders.

Located to the east of White Sands National Park, Alamogordo is the county seat of Otero County and home to more than 30,000  residents. With seven fire stations, the Alamogordo Fire Department provides a wide range of services designed to protect the lives and property of citizens throughout the City of Alamagordo and Otero County..

“Being able to offer our first responders the online training needed to help serve the Alamogardo community is essential to our success,” said Alamogordo Fire Department Chief Jerry Ramirez. “Ascend’s online programs are a great way to make sure our firefighters are receiving the most up-to-date instruction so they can provide the best possible medical care when responding to a call.”

Ascend’s offerings of innovative online education programs include Critical Care Review and EMS Review which are designed to help flight and critical care clinicians as well as emergency medical responders seeking to advance their training, help improve emergent patient outcomes and meet their continuing education needs. Courses meet certification requirements for the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN), Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE), and International Board of Specialty Certifications (IBSC).

Ascend’s in-person and online education programs provide access to world-class educators, state-of-the-art tools, and cutting-edge technologies to help pre-hospital and critical care clinicians build their knowledge, enabling them to operate at the top of their licensure and fulfill continuing education requirements. Education programs include advanced manikin-based simulation and virtual reality training that mirror real-world patient care scenarios, building life-saving skills and confidence.

“We are excited to partner with Alamogordo Fire Department and offer our online training programs to their firefighters,” said Dr. Stephanie Queen, Air Methods Senior Vice President of Clinical Services. “Our online programs are designed to equip first responders with the latest skills and knowledge to help provide the best patient care during emergencies.”

Learn more about the Ascend education program here.

 Lifesaving care is available for the season across the park 

West Yellowstone, MT, April 16, 2024 – Air Idaho Rescue once again opened its seasonal air medical base at Yellowstone Airport today, providing exceptional emergency transport to park guests and people in the surrounding area. 

During peak season from May through September, an average of 8.5 million visitors come to Yellowstone National Park. When these people suffer from heart attacks, strokes, or injuries sustained while hiking, biking, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities enjoyed in and around the park, they need high-quality air medical care. 

“Since parts of the park are so remote, people depend on this helicopter to reach those locations that may not be otherwise accessible,” said Mike Jenkins, area manager with Air Methods. “Visitors rely on this vital resource in emergencies when every second counts.” 

Air Idaho Rescue’s AS350 A-Star helicopter is renowned for its performance at high altitudes and in hot weather, making it perfect for Yellowstone National Park, Hebgen Basin, and the surrounding areas. It carries a team of industry-leading trauma clinicians, along with the equipment and medications needed to save lives in emergency situations. With whole blood on board the aircraft, it can be administered to patients in-flight when there is a risk of severe blood loss or hemorrhagic shock resulting from falls, car accidents, or other causes of traumatic injuries.  

“Bozeman Health is pleased that Air Idaho will be serving the West Yellowstone community,” said Dr. Anna Carl, physician and medical director of the Big Sky Medical Center Emergency Department. “Their critical care capabilities are crucial and their proximity to our hospital makes them an invaluable partner in providing life-saving emergency care.”  

Air Idaho Rescue is part of Air Methods, the nation’s leading air medical service provider offering critical care and transport in emergency situations, as well as interfacility transport when patients need to move between hospitals for specialized care. All Air Idaho Rescue clinicians and pilots have years of experience in the field and receive advanced, ongoing training. Nurses and paramedics have access to Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Air Methods Ascend is also available to medical personnel across the country. 

“We’re excited to have Air Idaho Rescue (AIR 3) back in our area,” said Brenda Dye, A-EMT with Fremont County EMS. “They are amazing to work with and having a critical care crew close by is extremely helpful.” 

Air Methods is committed to providing affordable air medical service to all who need it. They are in-network with most major health insurance providers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, and many others. Additionally, their patient advocacy program works with all patients, regardless of insurance or where they may be visiting from, to ensure affordability. 

Pre-paid membership is not necessary with Air Methods. The Federal “No Surprises Act” went into effect on January 1, 2022, and eliminated the need for memberships from any air medical provider. Under this Act, patients are only responsible for the copay, coinsurance, deductible, or maximum out-of-pocket cost outlined in their healthcare plans, regardless of which company handles the transport. In an emergency requiring air medical service, the first available carrier should transport the patient to the hospital and a patient should never delay care while waiting for a particular carrier based on a membership.  

Air medical crews are dispatched to the most extreme, most rare, most complex, and sometimes hopeless cases any patient could ever experience. It would be easy to look at extreme cases – like a man whose legs are stuck in a concrete auger on a precarious platform with devastating injuries and assess that he’s not going to make it. This month’s story is about using creativity, determination, skill, and compassion to go the distance and for survival.

Interested in obtaining CE credit for this episode? Visit OnlineAscend.com to learn more. Listeners can purchase individual episode credits or subscribe to the Critical Care Review Bundle and gain access to all episode CE Credits.

AMPED is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more. To listen to the episode or catch up on past discussions, visit https://ampedpodcast.libsyn.com/air-methods-prehospital-education-podcast-ep-38-going-the-distance-no-matter-what. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #AMPEDpod on social media. 

Idaho Falls, ID, April 11, 2024 – The emergency air medical crew with Air Idaho Rescue was thrilled to reunite on April 5 with Jack Moser, a young boy who made a miraculously significant recovery following a life-threatening accident. 

In July of 2020, the then five-year-old fell under a passing trailer while on a bike ride during a family camping trip in Island Park, ID. Due to the severity of his injuries, he was airlifted by Air Idaho Rescue to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, and then again to Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT, where he underwent numerous surgeries to stop bleeding and repair a broken pelvis, broken femur, and damaged colon and bladder. He underwent 26 surgeries and spent 98 days in the hospital before returning to his home in Pocatello, ID.   

“It was an amazing opportunity to meet Jack and his family after such a harrowing experience,” said Air Idaho Rescue Flight Nurse Casey Waldron. “The chance to see Jack running, jumping, and playing after his immense injuries warmed my heart. This family has been through so much and has come so far, with numerous agencies involved in Jack’s care. It was an honor for us to be able to play a part in his recovery.” 

Moser’s uncle, Jordon Peterson, is a paramedic who reported that upon arriving at the hospital, the doctors said Jack’s pre-hospital care was exactly as it should have been to save his life.  

“It was mentioned multiple times that the stars were definitely aligned for this response and that Jack has big things to accomplish in this life,” said Jill Egan, account executive with Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the country and parent company of Air Idaho Rescue.  

Those big things have already started. Throughout his experience, Moser saw many needs and opportunities to help others, and has been the driving force to create annual toy, food, and blood drives to help the community. So far, the family’s drives have collected 495 donated units of blood and approximately 1,400 pounds of food for those in need. These efforts are all initiated by Moser. 

“I am humbled to see the strength and willingness to give back to the community that Jack and his family have,” said Pilot Keith Grover. “It was a privilege to work with all those that played a part in this life-changing experience.” 

Moser’s mother, Amber Peterson, was grateful for the opportunity to express her heartfelt thanks to those who served an important role in saving her son’s life. 

“We are so thankful for all the skilled hands that took part in the effort to save Jack’s life,” said Peterson. “They might have just been doing their jobs, but to us it was so much more than that and we appreciate them more than they will ever know.”  

In the demanding and fast-paced world of healthcare, burnout has emerged as an all-too-common condition that affects medical professionals tasked with delivering high-quality care around the clock. Combatting healthcare worker burnout is crucial for the well-being of providers, patients, and the overall quality of care. Addressing this problem extends beyond staff welfare and turnover; it’s crucial to maintaining a high standard of healthcare delivery. We will explore the extent of healthcare worker burnout and have compiled five actionable strategies to avoid burnout, ensuring our healthcare providers are supported, healthy, and equipped to deliver the best possible care. We’ll also discuss ways Air Methods is tackling burnout.  

Understanding Burnout Among Healthcare Professionals 

Burnout in the healthcare sector is not a new occurrence, but its impacts on physicians, nurses, and staff have become more profound than ever before. Frontline healthcare workers have reported experiencing burnout at astonishing rates — in 2022, 46% of health workers reported feeling burned out often compared to 32% in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This increase underscores a crisis that not only affects individual practitioners but also the quality of patient care within our healthcare system. 

Burnout arises from prolonged or repeated stress, leading to emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. In the context of healthcare, this condition often emerges from the high-pressure environment in which workers must maintain a continuous state of alertness and moral and professional responsibility. Burnout manifests through three primary dimensions: 

  1. Emotional exhaustion: Caregivers feel drained and unable to muster the energy for continued emotional involvement with their patients. 
  2. Depersonalization: A defensive response to overwhelming demands, leading to a cynical attitude and emotional detachment from the job and patients.
  3. Reduced personal accomplishment: Professionals feel a decline in their sense of achievement in their work.

Causes of Burnout in Healthcare 

Several factors contribute to the rise of burnout among healthcare professionals, but a few stand out: 

The dedication of frontline healthcare professionals is often at odds with the demands placed upon them by an overburdened healthcare system. It is important to recognize that the exhaustion, stress, and emotional strain workers experience is not a reflection of their capability, but rather indicative of shortcomings in our healthcare system.  

“The U.S. healthcare system is difficult to navigate,” said Emily Colyer, Director of Patient Safety at Air Methods. “We’re working in a fragmented and inefficient system where there are constraints on simply doing the right thing for the patient. When these barriers make employees feel their work is not making a difference, they feel burned out.” 

These constraints in our healthcare system are pushing healthcare workers over the edge. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, workers “are at an increased risk for mental health challenges and choosing to leave the health workforce early. They work in distressing environments that strain their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.” 

Burnout can often creep up silently on healthcare professionals. According to experts from UNC Health, key signs of burnout in workers and providers include “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment or loss of meaning in their work.” Behavioral changes like heightened irritability or frustration often accompany sleep disturbances like oversleeping or insomnia, which should not be overlooked. Physical manifestations may present as jaw clenching or teeth grinding. The ramifications of burnout extend beyond mental well-being to potentially severe consequences like hypertension, depression, substance misuse, strained personal relationships, and an upsurge in professional errors. It’s important to acknowledge these warning signs and seek professional intervention promptly to mitigate the adverse effects associated with burnout. 

5 Tips to Avoid Burnout at the Workplace 

Preventing burnout and related mental health challenges requires a joint effort between employers and our healthcare system. Health workers can also implement strategies to avoid burnout and enhance their well-being.  

Air Methods offers these five tips that may help healthcare workers who are feeling burned out on the job.  

1. Establish Boundaries to Separate Work from Personal Life 

Setting clear boundaries is essential for work-life balance. It’s critical to have time when you are not “on call” for work-related concerns. This means turning off work phones or emails during personal time and communicating your availability to colleagues and supervisors. Even small changes, like refraining from discussing work topics during meals, can go a long way. 

Tip: Utilize email autoresponders and voicemail messages to inform others when you are unavailable, and they can expect a response. 

2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity 

Exercise is widely recognized for its ability to relieve stress and improve mood by triggering the release of endorphins. Even short, consistent bouts of physical activity can make a dramatic difference in managing stress levels and improving overall well-being. 

Tip: If time is scarce, consider short 10 to 15-minute brisk walks during breaks, or try a quick high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in the morning to jumpstart your day. 

3. Build a Support Network 

A robust support network can provide an outlet for discussing and managing the emotional demands of healthcare work. This network might include co-workers who understand the unique pressures of the job, as well as friends and family members. Air Methods has established a peer well-being program called SIREN that can help.  

Tip: Organize regular meetups or check-ins with your support system to decompress and share experiences. 

4. Prioritize Sleep and Nutrition 

Adequate sleep and proper nutrition are the building blocks of mental resilience. They help maintain focus, energy levels, and emotional stability, all key for preventing burnout. 

Tip: Create a sleep-conducive environment by minimizing electronic device usage before bed, establishing a relaxing pre-sleep routine, and having a consistent sleep schedule. Plan meals to ensure you have access to nutritious food during busy workdays. 

5. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques 

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises can mitigate stress and enhance feelings of calm and presence. Even a few minutes a day can make a significant difference. 
Tip: Use mobile apps designed to guide mindfulness exercises, and allocate a fixed, short period each day to practice these techniques. 

These tips can help healthcare workers when feeling overwhelmed on the job, but workplace support is just as important. Colyer emphasizes that leadership support is crucial to attracting, recruiting, and retaining teammates. “Leaders work hard to keep their teams engaged while trying to remove barriers that promote workplace burnout. When leaders support frontline teams, employees’ work remains consistent with a company’s mission and promotes retention.” 

How Air Methods is Taking Action 

As a company deeply committed to the well-being of its employees, Air Methods understands the serious impact of burnout and high stress. We have established a peer well-being program called SIREN (Stress Intervention & Recovery Employee Network) aimed at providing professional, empathetic support to combat the stress and burnout so common in healthcare environments. 

“In the short time SIREN has been in action we have seen many of our teammates greatly benefit from the support this team provides We are excited to see what the future holds for this team and the many people we can help.” -Sheryl Williams, Health & Wellness Manager at Air Methods 

Here’s what employees can expect with SIREN: 

It is essential to understand that burnout is not merely a personal issue — it’s a complex phenomenon that reflects systemic problems in healthcare environments. Addressing burnout requires a concerted effort from all levels of the healthcare structure, with the understanding that taking care of caregivers is just as critical as caring for patients. Air Methods supports our healthcare workers with a specialized program to help meet the needs of our staff. Healthy, engaged professionals form the backbone of a thriving healthcare system at Air Methods, supporting our mission to provide exceptional air medical care. 

Improving patient outcomes by transfusing donated whole blood to save lives in the air 

Idaho Falls, ID, April 4, 2024 – The Air Idaho Rescue rotor wing and fixed wing bases in Idaho Falls are proud to announce they now carry and can administer whole blood onboard every air medical transport. Their bases in Driggs and Salmon already carry whole blood, so now the entire Air Idaho Rescue fleet can utilize this improved resource. Having whole blood aboard their helicopter and fixed-wing plane allows their industry-leading trauma clinicians to provide additional life-saving care when every minute counts. 

“Whole blood contains red blood cells, plasma and platelets. When doing blood resuscitation, you need all three components to help replace what was lost and with coagulation (blood clotting),” said Teather Campbell, clinical director with Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the nation and the parent company of Air Idaho Rescue. “So instead of just giving packed red blood cells, we are giving everything needed to replace blood loss and clotting factors to help stop bleeding.”    

The crews previously carried packed red blood cells and plasma, and are excited to now carry whole blood which offers superior outcomes for patients suffering from trauma or hemorrhagic shock. It is particularly valuable in rural areas where there may be limited access to donated blood. Since Air Idaho Rescue carries its own blood supply, its clinicians can administer it in-flight while preserving hospital stock.  

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that whole blood transfusions improve the 30-day survival rate of patients suffering from hemorrhagic shock by 60 percent. The earlier patients receive whole blood, the better their outcomes, showing the significance of pre-hospital transfusion. Moderately to severely injured patients, including those with head injuries, particularly benefit from whole blood transfusions. 

“The people of Idaho enjoy the beautiful landscape and backcountry activities this state has to offer, but it means they need access to critical lifesaving interventions when they face medical emergencies,” said Jill Egan, account executive with Air Methods. “Between the many outdoor activities and the rural terrain in the state, whole blood is ideal for the type of injuries we see.”   

According to the National Institutes of Health, the ability to separate blood into its different components was developed in 1940, and it became more common to administer blood products due, in part, to the improved ability to store them. However, blood components don’t carry oxygen as well as whole blood, and during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the military brought whole blood transfusion back into favor. Doctors found that using warm whole blood allowed trauma patients to recover faster and live longer. Additionally, using universal, low-titer O blood is not only safe in both children and adults, but it also eliminates the time needed to test patients for blood type when every minute counts in an emergency.    

All Air Idaho Rescue clinicians have at least three years of experience in an emergency or intensive care setting before joining a flight crew. They receive ongoing advanced training, and every nurse and paramedic has access to Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Air Methods Ascend is available to medical personnel across the country. 

Additionally, Air Methods is committed to providing air medical services to all members of the communities it serves and is in-network with most major health insurance providers across the country. Their patient advocacy program works with all patients, regardless of insurance, to ensure affordability while making pre-paid air medical membership unnecessary

Base continues services in Lancaster County

LEBANON, PA – April 4, 2024 – Air Methods announced its WellSpan WellFlight base in Lancaster, PA officially relocated to Lebanon County, PA where operations of life-saving services continue throughout the county and beyond.

“While WellSpan WellFlight relocated to Lebanon, I’m thankful their excellent and much-needed services will continue to serve the Lancaster area,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Dave Zimmerman.  

Though based in a new location, the WellFlight team will continue to serve Lancaster County residents and visitors. The team is co-housed in Lebanon’s newly built public safety facility, completing a full emergency service ecosystem.

“We are grateful for the relationship we built with East Cocalico Township and the Stevens Fire Department and are proud to be partnered with the Lebanon County Department of Emergency Services,” said WellFlight Account Executive Ron Brown. “With the relocation to Lebanon, there was no interruption of emergency service to the communities we serve. That is WellFlight’s testament and commitment to ensuring efficient and reliable service.”

WellFlight is a community-based service—operating 24/7/365 service coverage for the region—transporting every patient who needs critical air medical services, regardless of their ability to pay. In conjunction with its sister base in Gettysburg, the WellFlight program has improved access to emergency services centered on transporting sick patients as well as scene and trauma-related calls within surrounding communities assisting fire and emergency medical service (EMS) teams.

“We are very excited to be in Lebanon County and the opportunity to provide the community with advanced critical care when time matters most,” said WellFlight Clinical Base Lead and Flight Nurse Bob Salvatico. “We augment ground EMS with the ability to provide emergency blood transfusions, rapid and advanced airway management, as well as an expanded medication scope of care to treat patients on the scene just like they are in an intensive care unit (ICU). Additionally, we are positioned to ensure safe, rapid, and efficient transport to a variety of tertiary care hospitals in the region.”

The clinical team is extensively trained through Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training program that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure, providing the highest level of prehospital care, and enabling clinicians to work in lockstep across the region no matter the community they are serving. Ascend is also available to medical personnel across the nation.

As an extension of services, the WellFlight team offers several community courses for local first response agencies including landing zone safety training, cardiac and/or airway management, and trauma-related incident courses. In addition, the team enjoys the opportunity to attend local events to bring the aircraft when available for community members to see services upfront. Anyone can request these offerings by visiting the website or emailing the team.

“Since opening the second joint venture location with WellSpan Health nearly a year ago, Air Methods and the WellFlight team have worked diligently on developing strong partnerships in the counties we serve,” said Brown. “We look forward to continuing to build on this strong foundation for years to come.”

Combined efforts increase blood supply for those who need it most

SOMERSET, KY – April 3, 2024 – For the third year in a row, the Air Methods of Kentucky program organized its Battle of the Bases blood drives across the state of Kentucky, including its base in Corydon, IN. This friendly “battle” among the six bases has garnered more than 300 blood-unit donations in the past two years, and this year, they collected 25 more units than they did during last year’s Battle of the Bases challenge.

“We were excited to team up again with our local chapter of the American Red Cross and the Kentucky Blood Bank Center,” said Flight Nurse Kendall Stewart. “It’s exciting to see the blood drive program continue and grow. It’s even more humbling to know these donations are saving hundreds of lives.”

The friendly challenge was sparked in 2021 when creators, Stewart and Area Manager Danny Bray, put their brainpower together to creatively help tackle the blood shortage in the state. Bray and Stewart decided to challenge all six bases to compete to make a larger impact by increasing blood donations. This year, the Air Methods Air Communication Center (AirCom) in Omaha, NE joined the competition, too.

“Air Methods has been a wonderful blood program partner for the American Red Cross and continues to go above and beyond to help us fulfill our lifesaving mission and support patient needs,” said American Red Cross Account Manager Brooke Lee. “They know first-hand how important blood donations are for life-saving care and work hard to encourage their communities to roll up a sleeve and donate blood. We greatly appreciate all their efforts in helping the Red Cross maintain our nation’s blood supply. The need for blood never stops and every donation makes a huge impact on those who need it.”

Each unit of blood can save up to three lives. With nearly 170 units of blood donated across three states this year alone, the Air Methods of Kentucky crews and their AirCom counterparts are potentially saving the lives of more than 500 people.

Air Methods works closely with the American Red Cross across the nation, helping to keep supply strong at blood banks and in program aircraft. All Air Methods air medical programs carry the critical tools, medications, and supplies needed to provide lifesaving interventions at the scene and ICU-level care while in flight. On every flight, the team carries whole blood and/or blood products (i.e. blood plasma), positively increasing patient outcomes through pre-hospital care.

Emergency air medical program brings extra support for increased crowds during celestial event  

Waco, TX, April 4, 2024 – While Waco is expected to be an ideal place to view the coming eclipse, the AirLift Texas crew knows that 100,000 visitors in the city could cause problems in case of a medical emergency. When jammed streets make it difficult for ground ambulances to reach people injured in car accidents or suffering from heart attacks or strokes, AirLift’s emergency air medical helicopter may be the best way to reach patients quickly. To help serve the large numbers of visitors in the days surrounding the eclipse, AirLift Texas is bringing in an additional air medical helicopter. 

“With the expected influx of people in the area, there is great concern with ground EMS services being able to efficiently transport patients to a higher level of care,” said Teresa Snell, area manager with Air Methods, the parent company of AirLift Texas. “We are bringing in an extra EC130 helicopter to help with scene calls, interfacility transfers, and specialty team transports.” 

The second helicopter and its best-in-class crew will serve the Waco area from April 7 to April 10. It will be stationed alongside the primary aircraft at AirLift’s base at TSTC Waco Airport. 

“Our first responders across the city have been extensively planning for this event and working hard to ensure the safety of the members of our community,” said Dr. Rama Heyratifar, MD, with Baylor Scott & White’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “AirLift Texas will be providing additional air medical assets to augment our prehospital capabilities. Our community will heavily rely on our air medical partners on eclipse day and the days surrounding it. We are thankful for AirLift’s partnership in supporting our community daily and during this historic event.” 

AirLift Texas is part of Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the United States. The highly trained flight nurses and paramedics onboard both aircraft are equipped to transport pediatric, high-risk obstetrics, cardiac, and other patients with a wide variety of critical care needs. They carry blood that can be administered in-flight for patients suffering significant blood loss and at risk for hemorrhagic shock, which causes the body’s organs to fail and can lead to death. 

Air Methods is committed to providing air medical services to all members of the communities they serve and are in-network with most major health insurance providers across the country for emergency air medical services. Additionally, their patient advocacy program works with all patients, regardless of insurance or the state they may be visiting from, to ensure affordability while making pre-paid air medical membership unnecessary.  

Program provides extra support for increased crowds during celestial event  

Uvalde, TX, April 3, 2024 – As cities across Texas prepare for the coming eclipse, one factor being considered is how to provide emergency medical care for both citizens and the thousands of visitors coming to the state. The small town of Utopia is expected to be one of the darkest spots in the path of the total eclipse and is planning for an estimated 10,000 visitors to attend one of several eclipse festivals in the area. In order to ensure residents and visitors have appropriate access to critical care in the event of an emergency, AirLIFE in Uvalde has partnered with Utopia Volunteer EMS to base their helicopter at Utopia Medical Clinic for the day. 

“We have a long-time working relationship with Utopia Volunteer EMS and are proud to offer our support to this community and its visitors,” said Joel Ramirez, flight paramedic with AirLIFE. “By partnering like this, we are taking proactive measures to address potential emergencies that can arise from large crowds like this.” 

With an estimated population of just 211 people and higher levels of care nearly two hours away, an influx of 10,000 visitors is likely to strain Utopia’s resources and create significant traffic congestion that ground ambulances may have difficulty penetrating. Heavy traffic is expected on all Texas roadways in the path of the eclipse, so air transport may be the only way to get patients to area hospitals. 

“We are so thankful to have AirLIFE help support us during this once in a lifetime event,” said Rhonda Garofano, director of Utopia Volunteer EMS. “We consider them part of our team and knowing we will have the critical care capabilities if the need arises means we can ensure the best care for everyone coming to the area. We have no idea how all of the events in the area will go, but we know we will have the right people available.” 

AirLIFE is part of Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the United States. Their highly trained flight nurses and paramedics are equipped to transport cardiac, stroke, pediatric, high-risk obstetric, and other patients with a wide variety of critical care needs. They carry blood that can be administered in-flight for patients suffering significant blood loss and at risk for hemorrhagic shock, which causes the body’s organs to fail and can lead to death.  

Air Methods is committed to providing air medical services to all members of the communities it serves and their visitors, and is in-network with most major health insurance providers across the country for emergency air medical services. Additionally, their patient advocacy program works with all patients, regardless of insurance or the state they may be visiting from, to ensure affordability while making pre-paid air medical membership unnecessary.   

Crew members transport child and great uncle on separate occasions 

Evergreen, AL, April 3, 2024 – Two special patients enjoyed a visit to the Life Saver 5 air medical base on March 30, to reunite with the crews that transported them for emergency procedures. To make the day even more unique, the patients were related to each other but were transported just weeks apart for unrelated events. 

Last December, 10-year-old Markeith Thomas was accidentally shot in the head with a BB gun while playing at a friend’s house. His mother took him to Andalusia Health where it was determined he had a fractured skull, a brain bleed from a BB lodged in his brain, and a blood clot. The Life Saver team transported him to Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola, FL, where surgeons performed emergency surgery to repair the bleed and remove parts of the BB from his brain. 

“More often than not, we are dispatched for individuals who have a very poor prognosis,” said Flight Nurse PJ Cross. “Seeing Markeith’s positive outcome was heartwarming and is the reason why I love doing what I do.” 

But on this special day, the crew got to reconnect with not only Thomas, but his great uncle, Warren Matthews, too. He was also transported by Life Saver 5 a month after Thomas when his family called 911 due to new stroke symptoms. He was flown to Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola for what was determined to be his third stroke.  

Trinesha Lowe, who is Thomas’ mother and Matthews’ niece, was grateful for the care her family members received and for the opportunity to thank the crews in person at the reunion. 

“Thank you for the amazing opportunity to meet and see you guys once again on better terms,” said Lowe. “We appreciate your team’s warm embrace and tender care for my son during this traumatic event. Markeith is well and he appreciates his opportunity to have a follow-up with your team.” 

As an active 10-year-old, Thomas was the star of the day. While sitting in different spots in the aircraft, he announced plans to serve in each crew member’s role when he grows up. He also had the crew laughing as he explained how he asked the surgeon to, “please just don’t mess up my hairline,” before going into the operating room. Thankfully, he didn’t even have a scar showing through his hair.  

Life Saver is part of Air Methods, the leading air medical service provider in the United States. Their highly trained flight nurses and paramedics are equipped to transport pediatric, high-risk obstetric, stroke, cardiac, and other patients with a wide variety of critical care needs. They carry blood that can be administered in-flight for patients suffering significant blood loss and at risk for hemorrhagic shock, which causes the body’s organs to fail and can lead to death. 

Air Methods is committed to providing air medical services to all members of the communities it serves and is in-network with most major health insurance providers across the country for emergency air medical services. Additionally, their patient advocacy program works with all patients, regardless of their insurance coverage, to ensure affordability while making pre-paid air medical membership unnecessary. 

Teams assist in lifesaving care to patient experiencing severe allergic reaction

DESERT CENTER, CA – March 30, 2024 – This morning, 10-year-old Logan Sauceda and his family met at Riverside County Fire Department’s Lake Tamarisk Fire Station 49 to reunite and show appreciation to the emergency medical service (EMS) teams who helped save his life following a near-deadly allergic reaction Sauceda experienced last month. Sauceda reunited with the Firefighters from CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department, Fire Communications Dispatchers, Mercy Air’s critical care flight team, and paramedics from AMR.

On Feb. 17, Logan was camping with his family in the Little Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness, and while rockhounding, began to feel unwell. Thinking he was dehydrated, Logan was given water and taken back to the car to rest. Shortly after, Logan explained he was feeling itchy and could hear his heart in his head laid down to take a nap. It was then, his father Alberto Sauceda realized he would need immediate medical attention. 

“I thought he was sleeping until I saw him shaking violently under the blanket, and then he just stopped shaking. He was unresponsive,” said Alberto. “He suffered a seizure and at the time, I didn’t know he went into cardiac arrest. When I began CPR, Logan’s grandfather called 911 and drove us to the main road so EMS could find us.” 

Due to the remote and very rural location of where Logan was, Alberto conducted CPR for more than 30 minutes with the help of Riverside County Fire Department’s Fire Communications Dispatcher Jennifer Jones before paramedics could arrive on scene.

“If it wasn’t for our fire communications dispatcher, who stayed on the line until our arrival, and the paramedics from Riverside County Fire Engine 49, the outcome would have been different,” said Fire Captain Scott Burnham. “I credit Logans’ dad and grandfather for remaining calm and following the directions from the Command Center Dispatcher with administering CPR and driving to a location which allowed Riverside County Fire Engine 49 to locate the patient.”

Once stabilized by paramedics, given the severity of Logan’s condition and needing immediate higher care — which was more than two hours away — Mercy Air 27 out of El Centro was dispatched. In transit to Desert Regional Medical Center, Logan had two more seizures and one cardiac crash.

“This is the type of call that we train and prepare for regularly, but hope we never actually have to respond to,” said Mercy Air Flight Nurse Nick Grindeland. “The ground EMS and fire personnel did a great job of stabilizing him within their scope until we arrived. He remained very critical throughout the initial flight to the hospital and required several high-level interventions and procedures during the flight.”

By the time Alberto arrived at the hospital, the medical team prepared both him and his wife for the worst as they were having a difficult time stabilizing Logan’s blood pressure. The hospital medical team recognized Logan needed further, specialized care and called upon Mercy Air 27 to provide interfacility transport to Loma Linda University Medical Center. By the grace of a miracle, less than a week later, Logan recovered enough to be discharged and walk out of the hospital by himself.

While still inconclusive, it was deduced that Logan experienced a severe food allergy reaction. The family knew Logan had an allergy to coconut, but the allergy never presented as severe. The morning of Logan’s medical event, the cooking spray used for breakfast contained coconut. 

“In the midst of adversity, where hope seemed distant, the courage of the fire department dispatchers with the determination of the firefighters, paramedics, nurses, pilots, and doctors forged a lifeline,” said Division Chief Richard Tovar. “Our heartfelt gratitude extends to the numerous agencies involved in bringing Logan home.”

Logan’s incredible recovery is credited to the immense coordinated effort of the CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department, Mercy Air, and hospital teams. 

“I’m 100 percent sure without you all, we wouldn’t be here today to celebrate Logan’s recovery. You all are our heroes,” said Alberto. “Thank you from the bottom of my and all of my family’s hearts for saving the life of my son that day.” 

Pictures of Logan’s recovery and reunion photos can be viewed here.