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DURING UNPRECEDENTED CRISIS IN CALIFORNIA, AIR METHODS’ CREWS ANSWER CALL

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Wildfires have engulfed California since late summer, with 8,500 wildfires burning over 4.2 million acres to date. Air Methods’ crews in California have been called upon to help with many missions related to this statewide disaster. The below is the story of one such rescue:

On September 5, the Sierra National Forest in California’s Central Valley was subject to a creek fire that blocked the only road out of the Mammoth Pool Reservoir campsite, leaving hundreds of people stranded and in need of evacuation. Before Air Methods was called to the scene, there was an evacuation with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters from the California Air National Guard.

SkyLife, the Air Methods program in Central California, was promptly notified to assist with evacuation procedures at the camp. The first evacuation included all three Fresno-based SkyLife crews and two additional clinicians who were also called to the scene. These teams were instrumental in aiding local EMS and National Guard with triaging patients and determining which patients were in critical condition and needed to be evacuated immediately. The Air National Guard was successful in the evacuation and transportation of 73 total patients. SkyLife crews assisted with the triage and monitoring of these patients until the Red Cross was able to assemble and assist in providing shelter.

Along with the rescue mission at the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, many of the SkyLife teammates have been active in volunteering at medical camps and serving food to those displaced by the monstrous fires that have consumed so much of California. One key organizer from Air Methods is Shane Clark, the area manager for the SkyLife program in Fresno, who has been with the program since 2011, was key in coordinating the assistance from SkyLife crews. He reported to the Command Post and contacted the Disaster Control Facility for destinations and surge evacuations. Even though he was evacuated from his own home and had to deal with the pressures of relocation for himself and his family, he remained dedicated to assisting with the scene calls in the area. He, and the entire SkyLife team, have embodied the mission of Air Methods during this unprecedented crisis.