It’s been a strange, stressful year for our flight paramedics and nurses in eastern Idaho, with pandemic challenges adding a new burden to their ordinary tasks of patient transport and wilderness rescue. A job that once consisted of ferrying critical patients from outlying hospitals to larger facilities and stabilizing patients from trips deep in the backcountry and national parks in Idaho and Wyoming, is now strained by the complications of COVID-19.

For Air Idaho flight paramedic Kimber Dameron, new challenges arose for her and many other EMS workers: forming bonds with patients through dense suits that made them look like something out of a sci-fi movie; keeping whatever they’d need for a call outside their new protective suits; and following the pace of a year that felt impossible to get ahead of.

In rural America, small medical centers have seen an influx of patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many patients have been turned away because there is simply not enough room. Planning during the past year for virtually anyone running health care systems in eastern Idaho was tough. At times for some rural hospitals, without ICU beds or the resources to care for COVID-19 patients whose health was rapidly declining, transferring patients to hospitals was an hour-by-hour affair.

Check out the recent coverage of the selfless work Air Idaho Rescue crews are doing eastern Idaho.