Emergency responders with Aero Methow Rescue Service trained last week with a Life Flight Network crew at the Twisp Municipal Airport, learning techniques for medical transport by helicopter.
“Every year we train with an air ambulance service and become oriented to their aircraft and receive and refresh landing zone training,” said Cindy Button, Aero Methow director of services.
Medical transport by air is a vital part of caring for sick and injured people in the Methow Valley because of the distance to critical care facilities, Button said. So far this year, 14 people have been flown to hospitals for care, she said.
The annual refresher training, attended by 20 Aero Methow staff members, provided information on communicating with the aircraft crew and landing zoning safety, Button said. “We also practice a ‘hot load,’ which is putting a patient inside the aircraft without shutting down,” she said.
Button said medical transport crews prefer to land at designated airports, including the Twisp Municipal Airport and the Methow Valley State Airport, because it is safer. However, helicopters sometimes land in more remote areas to respond to medical emergencies.
When Aero Methow responds to a medical call, an air transport service will often be put on call, in case a helicopter or plane is needed, Button said. The majority of patients flown out of the valley each year are cardiac patients, she said.