Narrowing the Response Time

J. Reed Anderson, GM Devils Lake Journal
The new Valley Med Flight hanger at CHI St. Alexius is opened for business. 
It houses six staff and one helicopter. An opened house was held last Wednesday.

Valley Med Flight came to Devils Lake in 2014. 

"We initially had a coned-off area in the hospital parking lot," said Tami Evavold.  "We rented rooms here at the hospital, but always wanted a facility of our own."  Evavold is the Business Development Specialist for Valley Med Flight.

And on Wednesday, Sept. 27, that facility opened to the public.  It is a large hangar on the backside of the CHI St. Alexius campus in Devils Lake.  It has six bedrooms and a large living area, plus a hangar for the Airbus ASTAR 350 B3E helicopter, or "rotor," as opposed to "fixed wing," in the parlance.  Outside is the pad, which is heated, and well away from cars, and there is a sidewalk directly from St. Alexius ER to the hanger.  "This project was in the works for a year and a half," said Evavold, "working on grants, with the hospital, and with the city of Devils Lake."

"Some of our bases are still without hangars, but most of our bases have them," said Evavold, "and a few have ones like here in Devils Lake.  There is one nearly identical to this at at base in Escanaba, Michigan.  These really shorten response time.  The staff for many of our bases are housed within ten minutes of the hanger.  That means, when a call comes in they get ready and have a ten minute trip to the base, and then the time to get airborne.  With this base, this hangar, they're airborne in ten minutes."

Each crew member has an individual bedroom in this new facility, no doubling up. There is one flight paramedic and one flight nurse per crew, and two pilots.  Each crew member in on for a seven-day stint, twenty-four hours a day--one week on, one week off.  Except the pilots, who can only fly twelve hours a day.  There are two full crews, four pilots, and some part-time crew members who supplement.

"Valley Med Flight typically services a roadside transport or facility transport within a sixty mile radius of a base," said Evavold.  "We have three hours of fuel capacity, but if needed, we can refuel in Grand Forks."

There are Med Flight bases in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and in Michigan.  North Dakota has four bases, Michigan with three, Minnesota two, and one in Sidney, MT.

"The community here in Devils Lake has been so supportive of us," said Evavold.  "They welcomed us with open arms.  We're so excited to keep offering these services and getting patients to the next level of care as quickly as possible."