Air Methods is an American company and a leader in aeromedical transportation and critical care logistics. Last year, they clocked over 13,000 flight hours on their fleet of 22 PC-12s. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
Located in Greenwood Village, Colorado, just 30 miles (50 kilometres) south of Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd in Broomfield, the company is proud to call Air Methods a neighbour. The company has over 300 operating bases serving 48 states with a total fleet of 450 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. They often operate in rural communities where air medical transport or treatment is the only access to lifesaving emergency care.
A Lifeline During the Pandemic
Running eight maintenance centres across the nation plus a national communications centre, it isn’t hard to imagine the challenges posed by a pandemic with regard to management of lifesaving missions. According to Doug Flanders, Director of Communications of Air Methods, they quickly noted a rapid influx in spring 2020: “As hospitalisations of corona patients rose, so did the number of Covid-related flights. Especially inter-facility transport, between hospitals that were stretched beyond capacity, and hospitals with available beds and the ability to treat critical patients.”
The Method behind Air Methods
A typical Air Methods air ambulance transport operation generally includes a pilot, flight nurse and a flight paramedic – all with several years’ experience. Some flights might have an additional person depending on the size of the aircraft and the type of patient to be transported. Covid patients, suspect or positive, are only transported if it is safe for crews to do so. Appropriate personal protective equipment is worn by all crews on every flight, regardless of patient status. Air Methods has developed decontamination procedures in line with available guidance and aircraft manufacturers’ recommendations. After each flight, crews follow a rigorous procedure which includes sanitising the aircraft, showering, disposing of used protective equipment and changing into new flight suits.
Crew Must Remain Healthy
Air Methods has implemented uncompromising safety protocols to keep both crews and patients safe. No crew member has contracted corona while on the job to date. But these operations are a challenge, even for specialists with the best possible training. Air Methods has transported over 3,300 suspected or known Covid patients since the pandemic first broke out. Extremely exhausting work for everyone involved – and not only physically.Air Methods is aware that the crews – from doctors to pilots to mechanics – are exposed to difficult situations during the pandemic. To combat this, crew members are encouraged to recharge their batteries with regular time off and vacations. Air Methods also asks for and implements crew feedback to improve their best practices. They also have a programme offering assistance with working from home and tips on relaxation to reduce stress, staying healthy at work as well as personal counselling.
Every Flight Is a Life Saved
The pandemic continues to hit rural communities hard, making air medical services more important than ever. Air Methods serves an entire nation, one call at a time. Luckily, they can depend on 22 reliable PC-12s to fly their patients to safety, in safety.