7 On The Inside: Medflight
Special Report: 7 On The Inside: Medflight
7News is On The Inside with a New England institution which flew it's first patient 20 years ago this week.
Within minutes of getting a call for help, Medflight is in the air. Three helicopters strong, plus a fixed wing jet and two ground vehicles all coordinated by their communication center at Hanscom Air Base.
Determining where they need to go and where they can land in almost every city and town is a big task, but Medflight gets it done.
Medflight was called to help in Wenham when an underage driver lost control and rolled over on a woman who was gardening in her front yard.
She is seriously injured and needs to be rushed to Boston for the level of trauma care that is available there.
"This mission is one of many flown by Medflight every year, 2,700 or so. This is like a critical care unit in the sky flying all across New England to and from accident scenes and between hospitals," a Medflight spokesperson said.
The paramedic and critical care nurse do everything they can to stabilize the patient in what is actually a tough working environment.
"This environment makes it a bit more difficult because of the noise, turbulence and the kind of limited resources we always have available," Medflight paramedic Todd Dennison said.
Weather providing, Medflight can usually be there, sometimes right at an accident scene, but it is more often used moving patients from one hospital to more specialized care at another.
"This 22 year old patient has internal bleeding, rib fractures and other injuries after falling when the scaffolding on which he was working collapsed. He's being transported from Lawrence General to Boston Medical," Dennison said.
Medflight has grown to be much more than an air medical service: it's a non-profit born from the unusual collaboration of the six large teaching hospitals in Boston.
"And we have taken that model of cooperation and used that to develop relationship with all of the community hospitals, all of the cities and towns and in fact all of the air medical programs in New England," Medflight CEO Dr. Suzanne Wedel said.
When the Rhode Island nightclub fire killed and injured so many, it was Medflight that coordinated medical services with other medical aircraft and burn treatment facilities that night.
From major crises, to transporting victims from awful accident scenes in obscure places, cost is never a factor for the patient.
"We transport patients, regardless of their ability to pay. In fact, many times we don't know the name of the patient," Dr. Wedel said.
In the case of the Wentham patient, the Medflight team is in contact with Massachusetts General discussing the patient's condition as they quickly make the short flight from the North Shore.
The patient is rushed to the emergency room, but later dies at the hospital.
Tough news for the Medflight team before they get their next call.
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