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When to call for a helicopter?

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by bkflyer, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. bkflyer


    Nov 28, 2005
    When do you guys call for a helicopter? What makes you call a particular one? What could the air EMS do better for YOU?
  2. RyanNREMTP

    RyanNREMTP Inactive/Banned

    Jun 16, 2007
    Waco, Texas
    When calling for the nearest helicopter, I take into consideration of what they can provide that I cannot. Usually I only call for them: if they can get the patient to the hospital faster than I could, if they have better drugs than I do.

    Faster transport means from the time I need to launch them to the time I can deliver a patient to the ER which is faster. I've seen crews launch a bird and just transport via ground with the helicopter crew riding in.

    Luckily we don't use air transport much here since we can get a patient to the ER faster than waiting for the bird.

    great, I just probably jinxed myself.

  3. bkflyer


    Nov 28, 2005
    Thanks. Sometimes it seems like a war zone out here. You just wonder when you see the competition fly over going to a scene. You KNOW it took them at LEAST 15 min longer!
  4. lthrbound


    Sep 18, 2007
    heavy traffic, extended extrication, and multipe critical patients. Those are the three big ones that I consider. Other than that its mine.
  5. mtncat


    Feb 20, 2006
    New Mexico
    Like already posted but we are in a remote are and handle calls in even more remote areas so you can toss in any back country rescue that is more then simple stuff, rock rescues, ATV wrecks. etc.
    Had a compound fracture a year or so back WAY out in the sticks, in a rain/snow storm.
    Took 4X4's and ATV's to get to the patient. Local "normal" bird refused to land in the postage stamp sized LZ.
    Had to bring in a MAST chopper, they brought it in dark, using NVG's
    Pretty impressive stuff.
  6. swatmed4


    Jun 20, 2006
    Batesville, MS
    I would also consider the distance to the nearest level I trauma unit. And our service we can do chest tubes in the field, so if you have a tension pneumo. we can fix that.
  7. huskerbuttons


    Jan 25, 2008
    SW Ohio
    IF the extrication is 30 minutes or more. If our transport time is over 30 minutes to the nearappropriate medical facility. Or if we have newbie who freaks out when they arrive on a scene before an experienced person gets there.:supergrin:
  8. volsbear

    volsbear IWannaBeSedated Lifetime Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    My brother is a pilot for one of these services. I'll have to ask him what his crew can do that typical EMS can't. I know most of his calls are to rural areas.
  9. lthrbound


    Sep 18, 2007
    In any part of my companies district we are never more than I'd say 20 to 25 mi. from 2 level I trauma centers, and thats from the farthest parts. Not to mention major highways funnel all sides of the districts right to them. The only time I have had an actual landing, PD called in a chopper before we were there. Which was way more of a headache than anything.

    No chest tubes here, just needles.
  10. backwoods113


    Jul 29, 2007
    I'm a new volunteer for a fairly rural paid/vol. county department just outside of a large metro area. Helicopter landings are relatively common for us (1-2 per week). There has been a recent memo sent out about when we can call for a helicopter or not. Used to, we would get a helicopter on standby just from hearing the mechanism of injury (ejection, motorcycle wreck, heavy entrapment, etc.). This was before any apparatus arrived on scene. I personally dont see any problem with this since patient care should be our #1 priority besides our own safety. But i guess you could say that some personnel got a little over anxious with putting helicopters on standby and to address the issue we were advised not to even think about a helicopter until an engine or ambulance went on scene. Makes sense I guess :dunno:
  11. emtp2rn


    Jul 14, 2007
    From our local protocol:

    These guidelines are offered as examples of patients who might benefit from helicopter transport. Additional considerations would include the physical exam, additional contributing factors such as age, mechanism of injury and the level of care available in the area.
    A. Trauma Patients
    1. Priority I patient
    a. Long transport times
    b. Poor road conditions
    c. Entrapment with prolonged extrication
    2. MCI
    B. Medical Patients
    1. Priority I- in rare circumstances if in the estimation of paramedic that the use of helicopter resources would be beneficial to patient outcome.

    As to who can put them on standby:

    Placement of Helicopter Resources on Standby Status
    A. Standby Status
    1. Public Safety Agencies may place the helicopter on Standby.
    2. Place the helicopter resources on standby status as soon as the possibility that helicopter resources will be needed is determined.

    Who can request service:

    Request for Service
    A. Request helicopter resources to be placed into service.
    1. Non-ALS First Responder/Public Safety Agencies and/or responding ALS agencies may activate the helicopter service.

    Who can cancel the request:

    A. A helicopter resources request initiated by a BLS or Public Safety Agency can be canceled by the responding ALS agency only after an appropriate patient assessment has been conducted.
    B. A helicopter request initiated by an ALS agency may be canceled only by the agency initiating the request.
    C. If Aero Med cancels a flight, the pilot/flight team or Flight Com will contact the requesting ALS agency to notify of cancellation.
    D. Aero Med Flight Physician may elect to send patient by ground.
  12. lvfcfirefighter

    lvfcfirefighter Firefighter/EMT

    Feb 4, 2008

    I have been lurking around this thread for a little while. Because I work in the flight industry, I decided I would sit back and see what the responses would be. I would like to say that there have been some good responses and I wish more medics from my area would read this. One that makes me laugh though is the one I have highlighed in bold above. Believe me, if you cant drive on the roads, we cant fly! :rofl:
  13. bkflyer


    Nov 28, 2005
    Why do you put an aircraft on stand-by? I know we would MUCH rather be launched and aborted than sit on stand-by for 10-15 min. I know some of your protocals may make you do this but can you change them? If we get aborted, nobody pays. We got to go fly and it's a good day:) As far as we can't fly if the roads are bad, yes and no. This last snowstorm is a perfect example. The snow stopped and we have 9" of snow...... For the most part though you are correct. If you EMS guys could run the flight program what would you change?
  14. gruntmedik

    gruntmedik Honk Honk CLM

    Jan 2, 2005
    Taylorsville, KY
    Our protocol a for stand-by request is to launch, unless the scene is within 15 miles of the base, unless we are specifically requested to not launch.

    Like bkflyer said, I would much rather be requested, then cancelled, than to wait and be requested once the on scene crew makes an assessment. You now have that much more time cutting into the Golden Hour.
  15. 4095fanatic


    Oct 12, 2006
    In a nutshell (and our shock trauma center is 20-40 minutes away by ground, depending on response area):

    If transport will be expidited by more than 15 minutes, consider a helicopter.

    All Class A trauma patients get flown.

    Maryland State Police can have a helicopter anywhere in the state in 15 minutes, and transport time of another 5-10, so usually if you're more than 30 minutes drive time to the hospital, makes sense to call for the chopper. Get on scene, find a Priority 1, call for the chopper... patient will be mostly packaged and ready to go by the time the helo touches down.
  16. Tvov


    Sep 30, 2000
    I was kind of thinking about the incident being out in the wilderness, or something similar. An hours rough dirt road driving may only be 15 minutes of smooth flying.
  17. medic1213

    medic1213 TraumaHawk

    Feb 20, 2000
    Rockingham, NC
    But is the ED you're transporting to a Level 1 trauma center, or just a local bandaid station? Waiting a few extra minutes on a bird that can have the patient at a trauma center within the golden hour beats saving those 15 minutes and transporting locally to a facility that is not equipped to fully manage the patient's injuries. Now, if your local ED is a true trauma center, then yes, you should transport by ground if you can get them there quicker.
  18. medic1213

    medic1213 TraumaHawk

    Feb 20, 2000
    Rockingham, NC

    Poor road conditions can last long after the storm has gone, and the skies are blue. Another poor road condition could be a logger injured a couple miles down a rough logging road.
  19. medic1213

    medic1213 TraumaHawk

    Feb 20, 2000
    Rockingham, NC
    But unless you're government subsidized, somebody has to pay for all that fuel burned. Sure, it's a fun flight, but it's an expensive one too. Again, not a big deal if you're bills are paid by the government, but for a private helicopter EMS provider, those call us and cancel us runs can really hurt if they're frequent.
  20. D25

    D25 The Quick

    Jan 26, 2003
    If we have to use the FLIR equipped helo and cancle it, it is a $700 tab. No cost for our non-FLIR in-house stuff.