In the U.S., more than 50 million people are injured each year. The most seriously injured, whether victims of car crashes or other causes of injury, are often transported to trauma centers near and far by helicopter.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins examined records from more than 220,000 patients over a two-year period. They determined patients transported to the hospital by air were 16 percent more likely to survive than patients transported by ground.
And we asked KOAM's Kelly Reid to look into that.
"Not all hospitals can offer all services," Rod Pace, MedFlight director, said. "What we offer with the flight program is critical care transport from bedside to bedside."
"We're able to take and maintain the care that's being provided in the hospital, transfer the patient in the aircraft and take them to the next place," Pace said.
A subsidiary of "Air Methods," MedFlight has been providing emergency trauma care for patients in the Four-State area for more than 20 years.
"The way that we help the most is by getting those sick people who need those specialized different kinds of care maybe far away really can make the trip a lot shorter and get them to where they need to be a lot quicker," Hilary Riley, MedFlight Nurse, said.
Pace says his crew can shave 50 to 70 percent off of the on-the-ground travel time by transporting patients through the air.
"It's quicker transport. We continue what the ground services and the outlying hospitals have started," Pace said. "We continue the care. We advance the care through the protocols, and we deliver them in just a faster, quicker fashion."
"Anything that they would do on the ground, in the ambulance or in the emergency room, those same kind of scenarios and responsibilities are what I try to accomplish just in the air," Riley said.
Those responsibilities of keeping a patient alive are all in a day's work for the MedFlight crew.
"As soon as we're on scene, we normally have some idea of where we're going to start. The nurse and the medic, we work well enough together, we kind of read each other's thoughts," Mikel Vandergrift, MedFlight Paramedic, said.
After moving from its former helipad at Mercy Hospital, MedFlight is now located at the Joplin Regional Airport.
Along with a location change, MedFlight also has a new helicopter equipped with a digital moving map display, real-time weather and terrain and aircraft avoidance.
The technology is far more advanced than most ground ambulance services, but the process remains the same.
"You try to be very slow, very methodical, train yourself to go through a mental checklist of things you're looking for in the aircraft, things you're looking for outside, so that you can safely and effectively take the crew to the patient, pick up the patient and bring them back to get care. That's what our job is," Jason McBryde, MedFlight Pilot, said.
After MedFlight moved to the Joplin Regional Airport, Mercy brought in its own air transport service called "Life Line."