Air Evac Lifeteam representatives presented honorary photo boxes to local congressmen before providing a tour of the Air Evac Lifeteam Base and hangar on Tuesday, July 29.
State Representative Charles Ortega and Senator Mike Schulz received their own photo boxes that include a group picture of Air Evac Lifeteam, Jackson County EMS, and Altus Fire Department emergency services, originally taken at the Altus-Quartz Mountain Regional Airport.
“We got together just to say, ‘Thank you for supporting us in the area,” Air Evac Program Director Kelly Dillon said to Ortega and Schulz.
Following the presentation, Schulz and Ortega asked about staffing paramedics, base operations, and the cooperation between Air Evac Lifeteam and area emergency response agencies.
Dillon explained that there is a higher percentage of hospital to hospital transfers in comparison to responding to on-scene emergencies.
“We see a little bit every once in a while but not as frequently with our scenes,” Dillon said. “We usually go to the hospital once EMS brings them there and the doctor see’s that they need to be flown to a Level 1.”
Air Evac also utilizes an early activation response where the team gets the helicopter into the air and in route to the scene of a trauma until EMS decides whether medi-vac is necessary, Dillon explained. Once EMS determines no flight is needed, early activation is can be cancelled.
“Every minute counts when we are trying to save somebody’s life so we really try to go out there an advocate early activation,” Dillon said.
Recently Air Evac Lifeteam has partnered with the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OKBI) and now carries two units of type O-Negative blood aboard their flights, the universal blood type compatible for anyone who would require it. Dillon explained that Altus Air Evac is the only Air Evac facility to partner with OKBI and is being tested as a “pilot program.”
Air Evac Lifeteam Flight Paramedic Jeff Boehler said, “Having two units of blood can make all the difference between living and dying.”
Schulz and Ortega then toured the hangar where medical supplies and the Air Evac helicopter are housed. The helicopter was out receiving regular maintenance and was not in the hangar during the tour.