The Portneuf Air Rescue is ramping up for the 100 deadliest days and the inevitable upswing of injuries that accompanies Independence Day.
“We’ve been going on what’s called a scene call, where we’re requested to an automobile accident on the highway, almost once a day now, for the last six days,” said Christopher Parrott, a Portneuf Air Rescue team member.
The air rescue team is the oldest in the state and has been providing emergency air transportation to patients all across the region.
“A lot of people travel through here and certainly as volume increases, the traffic accidents increase,” said Dr. Drew McRoberts, the trauma director at Portneuf Medical Center.
When the rescue team gets a call, they can be in the air in seven minutes.
“The flight from here to Idaho Falls is about 17 minutes. Then, depending on the patient’s condition, we can usually package the patient and get it out and loaded back in the aircraft in about 20 to 22 minutes,” Parrott said.
Every minute counts when it comes to emergency rescues. The helicopter can travel up to 181 miles per hour and can fit a 400-pound patient and still have complete access from head to toe, providing a much more spacious ride than other aircrafts in the area.
“Time is muscle, so when we’re talking about a heart attack or having a stroke, every minute that you’re not getting to definitive care is potential loss of heart function, brain function,” Parrot said.
Prep equipment includes an ultrasound machine (to find internal bleeding), equipment to perform surgeries on collapsed lungs and much more.
“We’re not only bringing rapid transport, we’re bringing advanced skill level,” Parrot said.
All that care can add up. The cost of being airlifted can be thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, depending on insurance. That’s why there’s a program for people with a high risk of needing emergency transportation and those who live in remote areas.