Different Medical Flight Units Provide Care


By Alexa Tieu

Twin Falls and Boise, Idaho (KMVT-TV) Helicopters are sometimes dispatched to the scene of major wrecks.

These air ambulances are the fastest way to transport patients to area hospitals.

When it comes to emergency care, Southern Idaho has a few air ambulance services.

Life Flight Network and Air St. Luke's are two of those and each provides its own staff and aircrafts for their programs.

Air ambulance services are called upon by other first responders when a patient needs immediate care.

"We ensure we're ready for any type of call in any area, whether it's an inter-facility, scene call or in the wilderness,” says Aaron Frieel, a flight nurse for Life Flight Networks.

Tim Allen, a pilot for Air St. Luke’s says, "We're just always on standby, being prepared for anything and everything so we can walk out and fly within ten minutes of the call.”

An air ambulance crew consists of a pilot, a flight nurse and a flight paramedic, each of whom perform different duties.

Jathan Nalls, a flight paramedic for Life Flight Networks says, "Paramedics and nurses have different professional skills and completely different training. I bring most of the out of hospital experience to the crew and the nurse brings most of the critical care, ICU type hospital experience to the crew.”

An air ambulance unit is different than its grounded counterpart because of the care crews can give.

"With Life Flight, we can do advanced procedures, we can bring blood for example,” says Frieel.

They also have a wider array of pain and sedation medications due to the critical care patients would need.

But there are differences in the programs, and it comes mainly in their membership services.

Life Flight is a contracted company and funds earned go back into its operations.

Air St. Luke's is a division of the hospital with the same name and membership monies go back to the community.

"Our proceeds from all of our memberships do not go back into the operations of Air St. Luke's. They go to the REAL system," says Stan Flint, a flight paramedic for Air St. Luke’s.

The REAL system is a program where Air St. Luke's trains emergency officials for patient care free of charge.

But no matter what, Life Flight and Air St. Luke's will always be available to provide life-saving care.

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