The new Eagle Air Med lands at the Huntington fire station to show off the new helicopter that will service Emery County.
The Emery County EMTs and emergency personnel met with the crew of the newly contracted Eagle Air Medical. This is a new service for the residents of Emery County and any visitors who might need assistance.
County Ambulance Supervisor Jim Gordon said the company is called Eagle Air Medical and they have contracted with Castleview Hospital for the next three years. They will be stationed at Castleview Hospital and their hours for the one month test period are from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
They will be able to transport patients back to Castleview from remote locations and will also transport patients from Castleview Hospital to other hospitals including St. Mary's in Grand Junction, Utah Valley, University Hospital and Primary Children's.
Gordon said it's the job of the ambulance crew to stabilize a patient and definitive care will be given and a determination made where a patient needs to go for further treatment. The helicopter can travel to Castle Dale or Green River in 30 minutes. He believes the helicopter can reach all areas of the county within minutes. The response time for accidents or cardiac patients will be greatly reduced increasing the survival rate for patients.
"We as an ambulance service are now in the testing phase. With a 12 lead ekg, it will allow transmission of data to the hospital so a determination can be made for where a patient needs to go. If a patient has suffered a heart attack then the helicopter can by-pass Castleview Hospital and take them directly to Utah Valley where stints can be installed and by-pass surgery can take place immediately. We are really excited to have this service in the county. With chest pain and stroke getting rapid patient care is the key to survival."
Local EMT Sue Copinga said services in our rural area have been limited and response times are sometimes lengthy because of the distances involved and the wide scope of Emery County. With the helicopter a heart attack patient could be in Provo within an hour undergoing treatment. "It's really amazing. If you have chest pains, then don't wait. Don't think it's going to go away. Call and get some treatments. A lot of the time chest pains aren't heart attacks and are caused by other conditions, but don't wait. Cardiac issues can be life changing," said Copinga.
Both Gordon and Copinga said it's very difficult to watch someone pass away. But now with the rapid response times they hope times when they lose a patient are few and far between.
The new helicopter service is just one more step to increase the chance of survival for patients. The helicopter will be especially helpful for the Emery County Search and Rescue team. If a serious injury has occurred instead of waiting for a LifeFlight helicopter off the Wasatch Front, the helicopter at Castleview can deploy rapidly to anywhere in the county. It will be able to land on highways for transporting traffic accident victims and in the desert and mountain rescues in a far more timely manner than ever before.
Castleview Hospital has been working for sometime to bring this service to the area and now that it's here and in the testing phase they couldn't be happier.
Eagle Air Med also offers service in Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico, Wyoming and North Dakota.
Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk said, "Eagle Air Med will be good for having someone closer in those critical situations. It's great to have that kind of response and amenity for our area and people we go in after in a rescue situation, those people expect us to have everything they have along the Wasatch Front. It gives us that ability to be there a lot quicker to bring out a critically injured person.
Bryce Frankenberry is one of the pilots for Eagle Air Med. He said, "Our specialty is all emergency medical transports and hospital to hospital transports as well as scene to hospital transports. The EMTs and law enforcement will set up the scene so we can have an open space to land. We need a 100 ft. x 100 ft. open space. It needs to be clear of obstacles, trees, rocks and slopes. A flat spot is preferable. If there's not a good location near the accident scene. Then we will do reconnaissance of the area and find our own place to land and then the patient will be transported to the helicopter.
"My best friend wanted to be a helicopter pilot so I went with him to take the test and apply for the schooling and I made it in and he didn't so I am kind of living my friend's dream. I've been to Alaska and flown glacier tours there and flew tours over the Grand Canyon. I live in Eden with my wife Torie Okamura Frankenberry and two children. We work seven days on and seven days off. When I'm here I live in the crew quarters near the hospital so we can be dispatched at any time. Currently we are running one month in a test period only during day light hours and then after that we will include night operations. Everyone will have night vision goggles. The company will bring on two more pilots and there will be four pilots with two on duty at a time, one at night and one during the day. When I'm not sleeping I like to ride mountain bikes and dirt bikes.
One of the mechanics is from Price and Jackson Harrison one of the other pilots. From here I will be going to North Dakota for 16 days and then I'll be back here later.
"I really like going to different places and every day we have new calls and locations. It's challenging and exciting. I really like helping people out. We provide a service the community values. It's 27 minutes from pad to pad Castleview Hospital to Utah Valley. It's up to the doctors where we take the patient.
"Our speed is 120 miles per hour. We can arrive at an accident scene a lot faster than an ambulance. We work as a team with the emergency responders and we rely on them to set up the landing. I've been involved in some tough situations. But, we don't know the patients names only their weight, so you know if it's a child. It's my job to get everyone to the hospital safely and that's what I concentrate on. One time I had a patient with a broken back in North Dakota and a drowning from Flaming Gorge, but nothing too crazy. I try not to think about that part of it. It's my job to fly the helicopter," said Frankenberry.