The North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley has been providing emergency air transport for 28 years, and the service has been expanded to include a special High-Risk Obstetrics crew for expectant mothers who face health crises.
In response to customer feedback requesting Med Evac expand into the high-risk OB transport arena, the service added high-risk OB to its repertoire in July 2010. To accomplish this, a high-risk labor nurse from the L&D group would be available 24/7 to any of Med Evacs facilities in northeast Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska to provide transport to a proper facility where these high-risk patients could receive the best care, according to Danny Beckle, RN, EMT-P, program manager.
Med Evac has two Bell 407 helicopters and a nurse, paramedic and pilot available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are two, 12-hour crews per helicopter each day.From Left: Michelle Shaffer, RNC-OB; Jessica Vallejos, RNC-OB; Teresa Risser, RNC-OB; Julie Lindell, RNC-OB; Tom Lang, CCRN; Lisa Hall, RN; Shane Reeves, MD, Maternal Fetal Medicine; Tracy Hall, RNC-OB; Kerri Bowers, RNC-OB; and Nicole Vickerman, RNC-OB.
Overall as a group, we have 14 flight nurses, 16 flight paramedics, there are eight pilots, but they are rotating through, and then on top of that we have the eight high risk OB nurses covering that section of the process, Beckle said.
North Colorado Med Evac serves a 300-mile radius of Greeley. When you look at northeastern Colorado and the rural areas with the smaller community hospitals and western Nebraska, Wyoming, there really wasnt a service that was providing that to them and we had the capability to do it and those community hospitals and first responders were asking us to look at implementing the service, which we did, said Gene Haffner, director of public relations for NCMC.
North Colorado Med Evac then evaluated the situation and determined it was within their capabilities to perform this crucial service for their customers. Its a need that is fairly well utilized, but its also fairly specific. You have to have the right training and the right mix to get this accomplished, according to the national standards, Beckle said.
All of the high-risk OB nurses that fly with North Colorado Med Evac are also floor nurses on the labor and delivery unit.
Combined, we have over 100 years of experience, each of us having more than five to six years. We went through about a year of training, doing orientation, survival training, helicopter safety in order to become confident in the flight skills, said Tracy Hall, RNC-OB, lead high-risk OB nurse.
Hall chose to join the Med Evac crew to bring a higher level of care to her patients.
Being part of the labor and delivery process itself and working with high-risk OB patients, we do have a need here at our hospital to take our patients to a higher level of care and its nice to continue that care in the air, she said.
Standard configuration for Med Evac flights is a pilot, nurse and a paramedic. For high-risk OB flights, the high-risk OB nurse replaces the paramedic as the second medical crew member. The standard flight nurse team had to be retrained in obstetrics and high-risk obstetrics.
To meet the national standard, we had to blend the two. We had to get the high-risk OB nurse confident and up to speed on the helicopter operations, and then we partnered them with the flight nurse, Beckle said. In reality, its a team effort but the high-risk OB nurse is the lead for those high-risk patients, and the nurse is their backup for any other needs. Its a blending of the two to get the customer the best option and outcome.