Night flight with LIFESTAR to celebrate 20 years of service - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Night flight with LIFESTAR to celebrate 20 years of service

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For 20 years, LIFESTAR has been flying patients in to Amarillo from all over its 150 mile radius service area.

"We go out on scene flights, major traumas," said Jeff Cottom, LIFESTAR Flight Nurse. "We go to rural facilities and transport patients back to Northwest that are critically ill."

Three flight crew members are assigned to each flight and on the flight to the scene, one of them will sit up front with the pilot and then on the return flight home, both the nurse and the medic will move to seats in the back to care for the patient. A small space, that's fully equipped to handle almost any medical emergency, even at night.

In order to make flights at night, every crew member must use night vision goggles or a monocle. It turns everything green but it allows them to see more clearly and see what terrain they're able to land on. All while providing in-flight care and quick trips to Amarillo that have become an absolute necessity for many smaller surrounding areas, like Pampa.

"We probably average out of Pampa, probably twice a week that our ambulance will actually meet the helicopter," said Alan Price, Director of Operations for Pampa EMS.

Because even with its own local hospital, some patients in Pampa need more.

"They're able to provide a lot but there are services, specifically trauma, that they don't have the capabilities to handle," said Price. "So we fly those on to a facility that does have that capability."

When it comes to trauma, every second counts.

"For trauma they have what they call the 'golden hour'," explained Cottom. "The patient needs treatment and definitive care within an hour of the time of the accident."

"Time, the length of time to treatment has to do with long-term survival," said Price.

"Most of the places we go, we can get there in 30 minutes and get them back to the hospital within that hour," said Cottom.

Minutes and seconds saved in the air, that in turn might mean one more saved life.

"They know they can pick up the phone and make one phone call and we'll be en route to their facility to help them in any way," said Cottom.

"Many of our patients would not make it to the hospital if it wasn't for LIFESTAR," Price said. "They wouldn't be alive when we got them to the hospital."

"We all work together as a team," continued Cottom. "It takes everybody."

LIFESTAR covers 27 Texas counties and the outlying areas of neighboring states like New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and even Kansas.