Sky-high training at Trinity

When the helicopter at Trinity Hospital flies off for a medical emergency or returns from one, it could be a safe assumption that there’s a frenzy of activity on board to save the life of the person being transported, but it was a slightly more relaxed atmosphere on Friday morning when Trinity had a training session for all employees involved in the process of helicopter transporting.

Trinity Hospital held a training session from 7:30 to 8 a.m. for employees coming off the night shift and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all of the other employees involved in meeting or transporting patients via helicopter. The training took place on the helipad of Trinity Hospital.

The training involved orientation for loading and unloading an adult-size sled and isolette for babies. This is an annual event for Trinity employees. Among those training Friday was Dr. Thomas Carver, a neonatologist and pediatrician with Trinity Health.

If an emergency happened during the training, the time of training session would have changed, but still taken place Friday. In case of inclement weather, the training would have been rescheduled.

NorthStar Criticair, Trinity Hospital’s critical care helicopter, sponsors the work done by Trinity employees and has been in place at the hospital since 1992. NorthStar provides hospital-to-hospital transfers and scene response for adult, pediatric, high risk neonate and high-risk labor/delivery patients.

The helicopter is used for a wide range of emergencies including for heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure, accidents on the road or specialized flights for pregnant women or babies. Typically, from the time the emergency call comes in, the helicopter strives to be in the air within 15 minutes. To maintain that goal and keep their skills and stay sharp, flight and support team members fulfill yearly education requirements.

The NorthStar Criticair helicopter has room for four people: the patient, the critical care nurse, the flight paramedic and a pilot. Tamara Harvey, critical care nurse and coordinator of Friday’s helicopter training, said the nurse always rides backward in the helicopter, the doctor sits in the seat across from the nurse and the patient is next to them.

“We have everything in here that you would find in the intensive care unit or emergency room,” Harvey said. “The helicopter is a fully functioning ICU/ER. It’s like a flying ICU/ER.”