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Medevac services region with emergency

January 11, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

STAT MedEvac dispatched 10,000 medical flights in 2005 - about 250 of those from its newest base in Hagerstown.

The nonprofit air medical program, a service of the Center for Emergency Medicine, has been operating since 1984, and opened its 16th base at Hagerstown Regional Airport on July 20, said Guy Barber, Maryland Regional Manager.

The base, known as STAT MedEvac 12, is staffed around the clock by a crew that typically includes a pilot, a nurse and a paramedic. It serves Western Maryland, Southern Pennsylvania and the northern part of West Virginia. The helicopter, which averages 160 mph, can transport two patients at once and responds to all calls for service, from vehicle crashes to routine transports, Barber said.

"We provide specialized care, and we provide rapid care," he said.

The crew provides the same level of care available in hospital emergency rooms. Defibrillators, ventilators, units of blood, drugs and other medical equipment are taken to each call for service.

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Steve Triponey, a flight nurse at the Hagerstown base, has worked for STAT MedEvac for seven years and run about 1,200 flights.

"We're a busy service," he said.

The base originally was set for Frederick, Md., but after logistical problems there, Barber said the service was well-received in Hagerstown. They have a temporary quarters at Rider Jet Center, and a permanent one is being constructed at the airport.

STAT MedEvac operates two bases in Maryland - Hagerstown and Baltimore - along with bases in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Before the service came to Hagerstown, the closest medevac helicopter came from Frederick. Now, Barber said area residents have the convenience and safety of having one in town.

"If there is an accident on Interstate 81, the helicopter doesn't have to come from Frederick anymore," he said.

In March 2001, STAT opened its first Maryland base, in Baltimore. Barber said they had success there, but found they were responding to many calls for service in Western Maryland.

STAT soon opened a base in York, Pa., which transported some Maryland patients.

Because STAT wanted to cut the time it takes to get to patients, Barber said it was important to open the Hagerstown location.

No matter where the STAT helicopter is flying from, the crew must be ready and in the air within five minutes of the emergency call, Barber said.

"You just stop whatever you are doing and grab the drug bag and the blood," said Heather Dailey, a flight nurse in Hagerstown.

The flight nurse and paramedic each work a 24-hour shift, and spend the night at the base. The pilot works a 12-hour shift, which STAT MedEvac pilot Ron Van Otterloo, of Frederick, said is federally mandated.

Soon after STAT MedEvac completed its first patient transport in 1984, it added a fixed wing airplane for long range medical missions. Barber said crews, including the one in Hagerstown, are required to keep a passport with them at all times. They could be called on to go out of the country with a patient.

Triponey, who has been with STAT for seven years, has flown with patients to Nigeria, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and many other countries. On most of these flights, he said, Triponey was with a patient who did not need emergency care, but a nurse to monitor a particular condition or illness while the patient traveled.

For details on STAT MedEvac, go to www.statmedevac.com.

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