Sanford AirMed Provides Quick Response to Rural N.D. Areas

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Medical professionals call it the Golden Hour. It's the hour following traumatic injury that is the most likely time period a life can be saved. Hospitals are doing the best they can to provide service within that hour.

The Sanford AirMed department has two helicopters and two planes based in Fargo, Bismarck and Dickinson. They're able to quickly get to places that automobiles may take hours to get to.

When this call comes in these men go to work. Jerry Bushey is a chief flight nurse for Sanford Health's AirMed unit.

"Scene flights where we would land on road or intercepts where we would meet an ambulance at a designated location," Bushey said.

Patients in North Dakota could be over an hour away from a hospital. That's where things like this helicopter come in handy.

"Speed is definitely the key. The faster we get out there, the faster we get the patient back to the hospital. It's definitely a big factor," said Stephen Brousseau, EMS pilot.

Brousseau says the helicopter can reach speeds of 172 miles per hour, making it perfect for speed situations. The size of the copter also makes it easy for nurses to move around.

"Fortunately we have a pretty large helicopter so it's similar as working at the bed side, loading and unloading patients can be tricky at times," Bushey said.

This is the third year the AirMed service has been in operation and the members of the unit say that they answer around 600 calls per year.

The AirMed unit doesn't just take patients to Sanford hospitals, they will go wherever the patient requests.