The call comes in that a loved one needs an aneurysm removed immediately. What if the local hospital, though well equipped and staffed, is not prepared for this type of surgery and Houston is five hours away?
Pafford EMS is now introducing the newest member of its Clinical Air Division, AIR WING, a fixed-wing aircraft capable of long distance medical transfers anywhere in the country.
According to Keith Carter, program director, AIR WING can transport a patient to Houston in approximately one hour and 20 minutes.
"Specialty care patients, pediatric patients, aneurysm patients, cancer patients and certain high-risk surgeries that doctors and hospitals can't do in this area are the perfect candidates for this program," said Carter. "We fly them to hospitals that can do the surgeries in Dallas, Houston, New Orleans or Birmingham."
Based in Ruston, Pafford Clinical Air Division is the only Air EMS company with capability of Critical Care Ground, Roto-wing and Fixed-wing Transport in North Louisiana.
The division includes its newest addition, AIR WING, a Cessna 414, AIR ONE, a Bell 206L4, a critical care helicopter that responds to emergency scenes and inter-facility transfers within a 150 mile radius of Ruston, and The Critical CARE SCT ground unit which is available for the flight crew to make urgent transports when the helicopter is unable to fly due to weather or maintenance.
When a call comes in for patient transport, a Pafford ambulance will meet a Pafford helicopter or airplane complete with flight crew at the Minden Airport.
The patient will then be flown to the airport closest to the hospital specified where a contracted ambulance will be waiting to transport the patient to the designated hospital.
"From the time they call us, we can have them in surgery in two maybe two and a half hours," said Carter.
Pafford's AIR ONE helicopter has been serving Webster Parish and the Minden area for five years, according to Carter.
"We usually fly patients out of Minden a couple of times a week," he said, "and we work well with the 9-1-1 system, sheriff's office and all the fire departments providing the AIR ONE for Webster Parish. Now the AIR WING is an added benefit."
Faster transport time is just one of the many benefits of AIR WING.
"We have a bed-to-bed service," said Carter.
This means, when a patient uses AIR WING, the flight crew will meet that patient at his bed at Minden Medical Center and deliver him to the bed at another hospital.
"We are with the patient and the family the entire time," said Carter. "We actually call and keep updates with the family if they can't go with us."
Also an integral part of the division is the flight crew, according to Carter.
"We have the highest educated and trained crew in north Louisiana," he said. "We have nurses that have years of ER and ICU experience, and our paramedics have all gone through critical care training and worked on large 9-1-1 systems prior to coming to us."
Carter, who came from Dallas to help organize the program, is also a part of the flight crew and is a critical care flight paramedic, nationally certified paramedic and a certified flight paramedic.
Carter said Minden's airport is also a benefit to Minden and Webster Parish and its personnel make the whole transport event easier.
"Jason Hays has been such a great asset to us because he has allowed us to get fuel 24 hours a day at the Minden Airport," said Carter.