Care Flight among the top for industry safety standards serving Tahoe Truckee |

Care Flight among the top for industry safety standards serving Tahoe Truckee

Kurt Althof
Care Flight public and customer relations manager
Special to the Sun
Community submitted photo/via

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling on regulators to require new lifesaving technologies on many air ambulances such as night-vision goggles and terrain avoidance systems. The devices are costly, but the NTSB says they would save lives in a health care system increasingly reliant on helicopters for transporting critically ill patients.

Care Flightand#8217;s Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Margaret Tole couldnand#8217;t agree more. and#8220;Safety is our number one priority because we canand#8217;t provide exceptional patient care if you donand#8217;t operate safely,and#8221; said Tole.

Care Flight, which services the Truckee and Lake Tahoe region, has always been on the leading edge of aviation safety. In 1995 Care Flight added satellite phones to each aircraft to ensure yet another communication option, especially needed when flying in rural Nevada and other areas where cell service and even radio repeaters can be inconsistent.

Night flying can be hazardous and Care Flight began flying with night vision goggles (NVGs) in 2005. Unlike many other flight programs, Care Flight has trained all of the medical staff, not just the pilot, to ensure there are three sets of eyes keeping a look out for any possible danger. Care Flight uses the same night vision goggles the military uses.

and#8220;Each pair runs about $10,000, but they are well worth the investment,and#8221; said Tole.

In October 2008, Care Flight again voluntarily upgraded the safety equipment in the aircraft with the addition of Terrain Avoidance and Warning Systems (TAWS), as well as dual, moving, GPS systems with live weather feeds, and upgraded satellite phones.

In addition to all of the safety upgrades and investments, Care Flight contracts with Air Methods Corporation to provide the aviation component for the program, which includes pilots and mechanics. Air Methods Corporation is the largest medical helicopter operator in the country and is also an industry leader in safety enhancement and training. As part of the Air Methods Corporation, every single Care Flight trip is tracked via real time satellite, not only by the Care Flight dispatch center in Reno, Nev., but also an Operational Control Center in Denver, Colo., staffed with pilots and weather technology. Care Flightand#8217;s Aviation Communication Specialists require verbal position reports every 15 minutes from the pilot to ensure the flight is going as planned and constant communication is maintained.

and#8220;Care Flight is committed to clinical excellence and safe operation,and#8221; said Tole. and#8220;We will continue to strive toward improved safety at every opportunity as well as support the NTSB safety recommendations.and#8221;

About Care Flight

Care Flight, headquartered in Reno, Nev., has served the northern Nevada and north eastern California area since 1981 and was one of the first hospital based programs in the country. Care Flight staffs three bases 24 hours per day, seven days per wee in Reno, Nev., Gardnerville, Nev., and Truckee, Calif. Each base covers a 150 miles radius totaling 40,000 square miles. Each aircraft is staffed with a critical care flight nurse and critical care paramedic. Care Flight is a division of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA).

and#8212; Submitted to

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