Rockerville Fire Department trains for life flight emergencies
ROCKERVILLE, S.D. – Firefighters are all-round professionals with life-saving skills, providing vital public services that many of us don’t often think about until an emergency occurs. Thursday the Rockerville Fire Department trained, honing their skills in the event of a life flight emergency.
“Areal resources are critical in areas that we can’t reach via ground ambulance or that take more than twenty minutes to get to,” said Gail Schmidt, Fire Chief of the Rockerville Fire Department. “There are extra inherent risks that come into play with life flights.”
Black Hills Life Flight trained the volunteer firefighters on how to establish a landing zone, when to approach an aircraft when it’s both in full operation called “hot loading” or at a standstill, learned the critical emergency shutoffs in the event of a crash, was orientated to the aircraft and about what information to give the pilot and medics on board when loading patients.
Black Hills Life Flight provides essential life-saving services in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska, using both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter used in the Rockerville training was a 4 Bell 407, a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility aircraft.
Patients who have suffered a heart attack, stroke, blunt force traumas, bleeds, and traumatic brain injuries are often life-flighted to the nearest hospital. Each life flight is staffed with a pilot and two flight nurses. In-flight medical professionals can provide advanced trauma care including blood products administration, advanced airway intervention, cardiac/hemodynamic monitoring, ventilator management, vasoactive medication administration and titration, and offer advanced surgical procedures.
The Rockerville Fire Department has had to dispatch life flights during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally when traffic gets backed up creating a slow response time for ground ambulances or when ambulances must come from a station further away than normal.
Schmidt said that Black Hills Life Flight has also been utilized in other situations as well. “It isn’t always just patient care,” she said. They have helped provide communication support as a relay in areas where communication is limited and have assisted in searching for people lost in the Black Hills.
“We appreciate Black Hills Life Flights partnership and team effort in helping provide for our patients and helping us train,” said Schmidt.