Car Versus Train in Battle Creek - Helicopter Utilization

West Michigan Air Care appreciates the dedication of the many medical first responders, police agencies, paramedics and medical control authorities that utilize Air Care for their critical trauma and medical patients.  This was recently highlighted during an air rescue with Springfield Public Safety, Battle Creek City Fire Department and LifeCare Ambulance near Battle Creek.  

The patient, a restrained male driver, had been involved in a car versus train accident with entrapment.  Air Care was placed on standby early in the rescue efforts due to the significant damage present to the vehicle.  This four-minute early standby enabled Air Care to retrieve blood products, prep for departure, and ultimately launch within four minutes of activation. 

During Air Care’s standby, heavy extrication was completed and the patient assessment by LifeCare Ambulance personnel Paramedic Matt Wilson and EMT Emily Garrett revealed acute and progressive difficulty with breathing.  Concern was present that the patient may require skills and protocols that were beyond those available to the ground EMS operations.  These included RSI (rapid sequence induction) if intubation became necessary as well as chest tube thoracostomy in order to stabilize his condition.  Air Care was immediately launched and a landing zone (LZ) was prepared near the accident scene on the grounds of the Springfield Public Safety.  Within minutes of the LZ being secured, Air Care was on the ground.  Springfield Public Safety was able to keep the LZ secure which allowed the medical crew to immediately disembark the running aircraft and proceed to the patient’s side while the pilot continued the shutdown procedure of the aircraft.  Following report and assessment, the patient was loaded without difficulty and the aircraft departed the scene only 16 minutes after first touching down. 

Thanks to the rapid pre-alert by Battle Creek City Fire Department and Springfield Public Safety, and the comprehensive trauma assessment by LifeCare Ambulance, the patient was en route to a tertiary trauma center, Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, with a flight time of only 9 minutes.  This saved the patient 23 minutes (based on an estimated 32-minute ground transport time from LZ location) and provided the patient with a medical crew that could provide definitive treatment for both the head injury and the respiratory difficulty during the transport if needed. 

It is this type of collaboration between police agencies, fire departments, ground EMS units and Air Care that improves patient outcomes.  Air Care would like to offer our new “Fly Guides” for any Police, Fire or EMS department in order to assist them in making the right choices at the right time for the right patient.  The “Fly Guides” can be found at under the “When to Request” tab.  Air Care will also be distributing copies for your dispatch centers, police/fire/EMS units and community hospitals in the near future.  Thanks again for your dedication and perseverance in providing the best pre-hospital care.

By Kevin Franklin, CFRN/EMT-P 
Flight Nurse
West Michigan Air Care

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