DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - You just have to listen and look up to see what's working in the Miami Valley. For three decades, Miami Valley Hospital's CareFlight program has been helping to save lives when every second counts and it is not slowing down. Service for a whole new patient population is just taking off.
When we're facing the worst, the CareFlight crews are at their best.
"It's those critical moments that we get to spend with them that may make all the difference," said Beth Calcidise, a registered nurse and program manager of CareFlight Air and Mobile Services.
It is a fast-paced, high-stakes environment of saving lives midair. "We're all type-A personalities of course," smiled Calcidise.
"We depend heavily on EMS and fire departments to take care of us while we're out in the field to make sure our landing zone is safe and the highways are shut down," said Mary Lou Kyne, registered nurse and outreach manager for CareFlight Air and Mobile Services.
First responders on scene are the ones who make the call to CareFlight. They determine if the service is required.
Miami Valley Hospital's CareFlight program turns 30 this year. It is the only air ambulance in the region and has grown to a fleet of four helicopters and five mobile intensive care ground units. It also now consists of a team of more than 100 of the most highly trained nurses, pilots, mechanics and communication specialists.
Like former US Marine pilot, Wyatt Arp, no relation to the wild west lawman, by the way!
"The real heroes are the nurses who do the hands on work," said Arp, one of 13 CareFlight pilots. "I just get them from point A to point B as safely and efficiently as possible."
Safe they are; in 30 years and more than 50,000 transports, the program has not had an incident.
The chopper is a French-made Dauphin helicopter, the same kind used by the U.S. Coast Guard. It carries the pilot, two flight nurses and two patients at 180 miles per hour.
The first year in 1983, they had 600 transports. Last year, there were 4,000. This year, the program continues to expand its horizons by adding flights for the most precious of cargo: babies from the neonatal intensive care unit who need certain surgeries like heart repair.
"We have purchased a specialized transport isolette that provides temperature control and sound control as well as some vibration control," said Dr. Ed Spitzmiller, neonatologist at Miami Valley Hospital
"Time is everything, especially in the first hour of life," he said. "In the smallest babies there is something called the "Golden Hour" and so to get them the care they need is very important."
Three decades and counting, there's no job too big or small for these folks. When it comes to saving lives, the sky's the limit.
"It's rewarding," said Arp. "It's a service to the community and I think I have the best job in the hospital."
CareFlight services a 150-mile radius of Miami Valley Hospital with aircraft located in Dayton at the hospital, in Lebanon, and in Urbana at Grimes Field Airport.
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