Life Flight helping to save lives in Edgemont

Photo by Rhea Falig/Fall River County Herald

Life Flight training on May 8 with Life Flight Clinical Base Lead Cedric Colemen and Regional Business Development Manager Darryl Crown. 

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By Rhea Falig 

Staff Writer 

EDGEMONT— On Wednesday May 8 EMS Services, as well as the Edgemont Volunteer Fire Department, Mayor Jerry Dibble, a representative from the pipeline company, and others gathered at the Firehall for Life Flight Landing Zone Training. 

For those in EMS services and other emergency services that are required annually to obtain a certain number of training hours, Life Flight training qualifies as necessary training hours and according to Bill Kreutzer of the Edgemont EMS services, Life Flight is an extremely beneficial link for individuals in the medical field especially in a rural context where appropriate medical care could mean over an hour of drive time. 

Kreutzer said, “ If there is a medical emergency that occurs of a critical nature and we have a patient who needs to get to a level one trauma center, Life Flight has been an important partnership for us who are the first to treat and transport patients. For those who wouldn’t make it to a hospital in time, Life Flight cuts a lot of time off. Unfortunately we have had to call them several times in the last year.” At least two of those situations were auto accidents that could have ended much differently according to Kreutzer if Life Flight wasn’t on the scene to help transport patients in a timely manner. 

Some of the objectives of Life Flight Training is to discuss who is able to request an air medical transport, patient criteria for rapid air medical transport, to review requirements for establishing a safe landing zone, review aircraft specifics, and emergency EGRESS procedures. 

Black Hills Life Flight is owned by a company called Air Methods out of Greenwood Village in Colorado. Their operations expand from Alaska to Florida and they currently have over 300 bases of operation stretching across 48 states. Their communication center is located in Omaha Nebraska. Air Methods is a privately held company and not obligated to any particular hospital. Their goal is to transport the patient to the most appropriate facility. Interfacility patients are transported to a facility of the sending physicians choice. 

According to Darryl Crown, Regional Business Development Manager for Black Hills Life Flight, as far as billing and patient advocacy goes the cost for patients who need to be Life Flighted has been greatly reduced. After insurance and deductibles the out of pocket expense for patients is usually no more than a few hundred dollars. Individuals who were part of a program called Air Methods Advantage still have an active membership until it’s expiration date but Air Methods stopped selling memberships in March due to their Patient Advocacy Team being able to greatly reduce the out of pocket expense for patients. Crown said their team has also been able to work with patients and help with programs that has  reduced  the cost to zero for some.

Black Hills Life Flight has bases in Rapid City, Spearfish, and Hot Springs. Rapid City has an air plane, while the other two bases of operations have helicopters equipped with advanced medical care, including medications you would find in an ICU, a breathing machine, as well as a nurse and trained medical personnel that can provide the next level of critical treatment. Crown said, “Our aircrafts provide that expedited, next level care for patients facing critical situations. The airtime for one of our helicopters to make it from Edgemont to Hot Springs is less than 15 minutes.”

Fall River County Herald

EDGEMONT OFFICE: PO Box 660 Edgemont, SD  57735-0660   |   605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St. Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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