BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (May 2, 2010) – Central Florida News 13 reported today that First Flight is the first in the state of Florida to use night vision on its medical helicopters. Forty percent of First Flight’s emergency calls are after dark, so this new tool allows for more accuracy and safety.
“We have a very good relationship with other hospitals,” said Rob Spivey, chief flight nurse for Health First’s First Flight helicopter, which is part of Central Florida’s quick response medical team responsible for saving thousands of lives when seconds count.
First Flight also often flies to the aid of residents of Osceola, Orange and St. Lucie Counties. The helicopter allows for a wide coverage range.
“We travel to Miami, Jacksonville,” said director Mark Clemens.
Wherever the call, the goal is to provide rapid transport to the most appropriate medical facility or nearest trauma center. Specialized cases such as burns and pediatric trauma cases may be sent to the closest specially designated trauma center.
Seventy percent of all First Flights are trauma related, typically accidents. The rest are inter-facility transports between hospitals. The copter’s speed and ability to land in tight spots is combined with the impressive experience of its crew of eleven medical personnel, four pilots and mechanic.
Heaven-Sent Blue Angel
For critically injured or ill patients, First Flight’s gleaming EC-135 helicopter is a heaven-sent blue angel flying at 150 miles per hour.
“We carry everything a critical care ambulance carries, but in a very small space,” explains Spivey.
Working under harsh conditions, Spivey and his teammates know that time is their enemy and that a rapid yet careful intervention can make a life-or-death difference in situations that may require advanced airway procedures, blood transfusions and spinal cord injury stabilization, among others. The helicopter usually whisks the team to the patient in less than 10 minutes.
“We average seven minutes,” says Spivey.
This time frame is well below the national average and considered a model time in the aeromedical industry. The ability to navigate the length of Brevard quickly and safely makes the First Flight helicopter a huge life-saver.
First Flight is only one of two aeromedical transport services in the state to carry blood for transfusions.
“The blood bank is very supportive of us,” says Clemens.
In fact, First Flight piloted blood storage equipment now considered standard in the field.
“Six years ago, we were used as a test model for the cooler,” says Spivey.
Crew members are flawlessly committed to helping in any way they can. Spivey, for example, has worked in the past an average of 60 hours a week, 36 of them at First Flight, the rest in an emergency department and as a teacher of safety and CPR classes. The crew is truly a band of brothers and sisters dedicated to saving lives.
“At the end of the day, you know you made a difference,” says Spivey.