The Sanford AirMed team in Bismarck, North Dakota, trains often, sharpening their skills and maintaining their knowledge for any situation they may encounter. At a recent training exercise, the team worked on intubating a drowning victim, injecting proper dosages, and even the right way to work the helicopter radio. They’ve been doing all of this and more for a while now. This summer, the tight-knit group celebrated 10 years of life-saving flights.
“Air ambulances are very important, especially when we have these vast distances between places like we have in North Dakota,” said Adam Parker, a current manager at Sanford AirMed and one of the original Bismarck AirMed flight paramedics.
Expanding care into rural areas
Bismarck is the home of Sanford AirMed’s EC 145 helicopter, which can travel as far as eastern Montana. Meanwhile, the King Air B200 fixed wing aircraft is housed in Dickinson, and can travel up to 1,500 miles to serve its patients.
“We always knew that air medical was an option and would be successful, but it took time to grow the market, to make people comfortable with using us,” said Parker.
Since the first Sanford AirMed flight on June 18, 2013, the dedicated crew members have gone on about 4,700 flights to hospitals and emergency scenes all over the region.
“We have gotten a lot busier,” said Marcy Dawson, outreach resource specialist at Sanford AirMed, and a former flight nurse who started with Sanford less than a year after the program began. “More (hospitals and emergency services) are calling and utilizing us. They know we are here for them to help them with the care for these patients.”
Saving lives one patient at a time
When every minute counts, Sanford AirMed’s team brings the ER directly to the patient, which can be the difference between life and death.
“Being a flight paramedic or on a flight team is a very challenging job because you’re operating outside of the hospital,” said Parker. “We’re taking care of that one patient when we go pick them up. That is our only focus.”
The people who safely bring critical care and trauma patients to hospitals all across the region take great pride knowing they’ve made a difference over the last decade. From pilots and mechanics to flight paramedics and flight nurses, they’ve all played their part in expanding care to the farthest reaches of the region.
“You’re there for these patients in one of the worst times of their lives,” said Dawson. “It’s been rewarding to be able to do that. It’s something that I am really proud to be a part of.”
Now after 10 years in Bismarck, Marcy Dawson and others at Sanford AirMed are training the next generation, setting them up for the next decade and beyond.
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