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Whether local residents or guests to Yellowstone National Park from around the world, people facing medical emergencies in the West Yellowstone area are in good hands thanks to Air Idaho Rescue. On Saturday, Sept. 16, the air medical crew transported its 1,000th patient.
The team of four pilots, one mechanic, three flight nurses, and three flight paramedics has operated the seasonal base in West Yellowstone for the past nine years, serving the area from approximately May through October.
“Our 1,000th flight is a big deal to us because it means there are 1,000 people we have been able to help during their greatest time of need,” said Tom Cadmus, flight paramedic with Air Idaho Rescue. “Our service area is mostly wilderness and mountains, so we care for a variety of medical needs including complications from altitude related illnesses, injuries from outdoor adventure activities, as well as life threatening medical events like heart attacks and strokes.”
The West Yellowstone area is serviced by medical clinics, so patients with critical emergencies need to be transported farther distances to hospitals for definitive care. Air Idaho Rescue’s Airbus H125 helicopter functions as a flying intensive care unit and can get to the closest hospital in approximately 45 minutes, rather than the over three hours that the drive can take when traffic is heavy in the park.
It carries a team of trauma clinicians, along with the equipment and medications needed for medical emergencies. They also carry blood on board the aircraft and can administer it in flight to patients suffering from severe blood loss or hemorrhagic shock resulting from falls, car accidents, or other causes of traumatic injuries.