LifeFlight Training Bolsters Emergency Response Efforts

Photo by Sarah Brown – The SHFAD conducted their first training session on the new LifeFlight helipad at the Samaritan Sweet Home Health Center.

In a strategic collaboration aimed at fortifying emergency response capabilities, Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District (SHFAD) recently engaged in specialized training conducted by LifeFlight, a premier air medical transport service. Chief Nick Tyler of SHFAD provided exclusive insights into the training initiative, highlighting its significance in bolstering the district’s ability to respond swiftly and effectively to critical situations.

LifeFlight Network is a not-for-profit patient transport service providing helicopter, fixed-wing, and ground ambulance transport throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Tyler stressed the crucial necessity of providing SHFAD personnel with the vital skills required for loading patients into helicopters and setting up landing zones for air ambulances. “While there is no formal certification required for loading patients into the helicopter, we prioritize training all our Paramedics and EMTs in this crucial skill set,” Tyler said.

The collaborative training effort extended beyond frontline responders to include SHFAD officers, who were tasked with coordinating with air ambulance crews and facilitating the setup of landing zones. Tyler highlighted the importance of this training for the officers, stating, ‘‘It is also beneficial for our officers who interact with the LifeFlight crew and assist in setting up landing zones.’’

Tyler commended the participants for their exemplary performance during the training sessions, noting, “Everyone did well with the training. It was very exciting to utilize that landing zone for the first time. It proved to be a very good landing zone. In talking with the pilot, it was very easy to see, the windsock was in a great spot and the landing zone was good.“

The decision to conduct the training at night was strategic, providing SHFAD personnel with valuable experience in handling landing zones under challenging conditions. Tyler said, “Training at night simulates real-world scenarios where assistance may be needed in low-light conditions.”

Additionally, conducting drills at 7:00 pm was convenient, and utilizing the landing zone during less congested times ensured optimal training conditions according to Tyler. The helicopter also landed during the day to inspect the area before the night training.

“From our perspective night versus day is no different,” explained Tyler. “The pilot and the Lifeflight crew require a little more assistance at times when it’s dark. Obstructions get more difficult to see, so the communication between ground crews and the helicopter crew is important.”

Tyler highlighted the potential impact of the dedicated landing zone on response times, particularly for emergencies along the Hwy 20 corridor where traditional landing spots may be limited. “We envision utilizing this landing zone for calls requiring LifeFlight from remote areas where landing options are scarce,” said Tyler.

Moreover, he underscored the significance of the dedicated landing zone in streamlining emergency response efforts during large-scale events such as the Jamboree weekend. “A specific time I see that being extremely useful is during the Jamboree weekend. If a medical helicopter is needed during the Jamboree many of the open fields and open areas have campsites in them. The dedicated area provides a known, open area that could be used with less ground resources required,” said Tyler.