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Higher education

Helicopter crew visits with WCS students

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published May 27, 2016

 Beaumont One’s Doug Berry, R.N., flight nurse and paramedic, visits the Warren Consolidated Schools Career Preparation Center in Sterling Heights May 17.

Beaumont One’s Doug Berry, R.N., flight nurse and paramedic, visits the Warren Consolidated Schools Career Preparation Center in Sterling Heights May 17.

Photo by John McTaggart

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STERLING HEIGHTS — When the Beaumont One: Air Medical Transportation Helicopter crew receives an emergency call, the staff is up in the air within 6-10 minutes and heading to the scene.

“We take patients to the closest trauma center,” Beaumont One’s Doug Berry, R.N., a flight nurse and paramedic, told the students in Lisa Grech’s classroom at the Warren Consolidated Schools Career Preparation Center. The CPC offers various courses, including culinary arts, engineering and graphic arts. The classes are in two-hour blocks, and students return to their home school for their other classes.

Berry visited the school May 17 to talk to the CPC students who have an interest in the medical field about Beaumont One. The helicopter and its crew provide inter-hospital and scene transport for critically ill and injured patients. Berry’s educational presentation continued outside when the Beaumont One helicopter landed in the school parking lot.

During the visit, the students were allowed to see Beaumont One up close with pilot Karl Rosen, flight paramedic Jeffery Shoemaker and flight nurse Cathlene Beebe, R.N., EMT-P. The team flew in from the Oakland Troy Airport, a flight that took about five minutes and traveled at 120 knots.

The team includes highly trained flight nurses and flight paramedics, each with at least five years of critical care and emergency experience.

The medical crew can perform high-acuity medical treatments and procedures, including advanced airway procedures, hemodynamic monitoring, IV medication titration, blood product transfusion and inter-aortic balloon pumps. The crew does about 30 flights a month.

Beaumont One is generally called when there is a prolonged extraction, when ground transportation is more than 20 minutes away, when advanced airway tools are needed for victims, when a trauma center for pediatrics is needed, and for burns and spinal cord injuries.

Berry talked about the preparation the crew members must remember when heading to an accident scene. He said the flight crew is in communication with the local first responders on the ground to determine the best scenario for the patient.

“We need a patient’s age and weight, any airway issues, and the level of consciousness,” Berry said.

The crew must set up for a landing zone in an accident scene. The medical staff needs a 100-foot-by-100-foot area on the ground to land safely. The crew watches out for obstruction markings, and the helicopter must have an approach and departure path. The helicopter, a Eurocopter EC-1, usually arrives at its final destination in 20 minutes.

“We’re trying to get there to that surgeon in our helicopter,” Berry said. Seeing at night is different, Berry said, adding that the crew sometimes flies while wearing goggles.

“If we’re landing in the summertime and it’s very dry, we get what we call a brownout condition,” Berry said. “In the winter, we get white-out conditions. During wintertime, it takes us a little longer to get off the ground.”

Berry informed the students there are times in which the helicopter has to stay grounded because of inclement weather.

“Sometimes we don’t fly, not only for our safety and the patient’s safety,” Berry said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority.”

Sterling Heights High School senior and CPC student Genevieve Kortebein found the presentation “impressive” primarily because of “the level of knowledge they have to have to do this job.”

“I thought it was interesting,” Warren Mott High School junior and CPC student Courtney Ruffini said. “It’s not something you always think about. What was interesting were all the precautions they have to take.”

The helicopter crew works 24-hour shifts two days a week, along with regular training exercises.

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