In March of this year, Kayla Parsons had an experience no parent ever wants to have. While moving brush on some land, a chain on the skid-steer snapped and her 13-year-old daughter was hit.
“I was terrified,” Parsons said. “I was a mess. It was definitely the worst. But yet, best crew, I think that we could have asked for.”
Her daughter was flown to OU Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City by Air Evac Lifeteam. Parsons said a nurse took her number and messaged her throughout the trip, which for Parsons was a two and a half hour drive.
“They were wonderful. I don't know how else to say it. Like I said, the nurse just blew my mind,” Parsons said.
A few weeks later, Parsons took her children back to the Woodward Air Evac Lifeteam base for a visit.
“They let the girls take pictures with the helicopter,” Parsons said. “She didn't realize how small it was. I guess just because she was kind of in and out of it. You know, a little bit like - Yeah, she didn't realize how small it was. But she did remember, of course, the nurse lady and the gentleman (paramedic) who flew.”
Parsons’ family was not a member of Air Evac Lifeteam at the time of the accident.
“Let me tell you, we have it (membership) now. But at the time, no, we did not have it,” Parsons said. “It was just frustrating to find out that it was as simple as going in and signing a piece of paper and paying $5 a month for it.”
Even though memberships with Air Evac Lifeteam can be purchased at a discount and can be added very simply to most utility bills for just an extra $5 a month, only about 30 percent of area residents are taking advantage of the opportunity, according to local Membership Sales Manager Christy Lovelace.
“We've got 143 bases across 15 states,” Woodward Air Evac Lifeteam Program Director Chad Campbell said. “The base in Woodward has been here for 12 years.”
Air Evac and a partner have the four closest helicopters and the two closest airplanes in the Northwest Oklahoma area. The Woodward base itself is well staffed.
“We have four pilots, four nurses, four paramedics, one full time mechanic,“ Campbell said. “We currently have 14 bases across the state of Oklahoma.”
Air Evac are participating providers in the AirMedCare Network (AMCN), which has 320 locations across 38 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. If you are traveling away from home Air Evac, or one of their partners, are still available to members.
“Anywhere in our service area, if you're traveling, you’re covered,” Lovelace said. “We always suggest to any of our members, if they're in the hospital, they make sure the doctor knows, hey, I have Air Evac.”
In addition to regular membership, members can also sign up for the AMCN Fly-U-Home addition. This can be especially useful to members who travel often. If a member is hospitalized away from home, the add-on coverage can provide air medical transport to your local hospital, and arrange all of the details of the flight, at no cost to you.
“Once the EMS (ambulance) and the fire department get on the scene, they determine, okay, yes, this patient needs to be flown, or no this patient doesn’t. And that's all based on statewide guidelines,” Campbell explained. “So then we will respond to the scene, whether it's somebody's house, somebody pasture, or in the middle of a highway.”
According to Campbell, they work very closely with local law enforcement and fire departments so emergency personnel can designate a specific safe zone for the helicopter to fly.
“We give them classes on what we need and how we need to land the helicopter, and they provide the safety and the ground contact for us,” Campbell explained. “And then we work with them to continue to care that they've started.”
The state has protocols set in place directing the team to where a patient will be transferred, depending on the situation.
“A lot of it depends on what their medical issue is, if it's trauma, or if it's a stroke or if it’s a heart attack. And we use that to determine where to take the patient,” Campbell added.
Air Evac Lifeteam has been accredited with the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) since 2008.
“It's a really big certification that we choose to do,” Campbell said. “They come in and evaluate hundreds of different things every three years. And a lot of it's on the safety side to ensure that we're operating in the safest possible manner for the industry.”
For more information on becoming a member of Air Evac Lifeteam, contact Christy Lovelace at 580-497-7992.
How to enroll
To enroll as a member for Air Evac Lifeteam, call your local utility company and see if they are partners. If they are, they can help you apply and add the $5 onto your monthly bill. If not, contact Christy Lovelace at 580-497-7992 or apply online at https://www.amcnrep.com/christy-lovelace/.