Boston MedFlight recently launched a video series on YouTube meant to improve first responder safety when medical aircraft respond directly to an emergency scene, as opposed to an airport or helipad. Boston MedFlight regularly transports critically ill or injured patients off the Vineyard by helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, and on occasion its helicopters are called onto an Island roadway or an athletic field where first responders find themselves working close to the aircraft.
Knowledge of how to safely work around an active helicopter and to load or unload a patient into one is important, Boston MedFlight chief operating officer Andy Farkas told The Times. And should the helicopter crew have an emergency, knowledge of the safe and dangerous parts of the aircraft is also important, he said. “Scene calls are roughly 10 to 12 percent of our helicopter volume,” he said.
Boston MedFlight made the series after receiving funding from MassDOT, Greg Turner, vice president of Ball Consulting Group, the PR firm managing the rollout of the video, said.
For their past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, Farkas noted, Boston MedFlight volume on the Vineyard was one of the the highest on record, with 172 helicopter transports and 16 airplane transports.
Oak Bluffs Fire and EMS Chief John Rose said while he’s looking forward to watching the video, his department is already versed in many of the protocols for working around medical helicopters. Oak Bluffs has five alternate landing zones, he said, and regularly trains with Boston MedFlight. “They have an outstanding training program,” he said.
Vineyard medical patients shouldn’t expect Boston MedFlight airplane transportation off the Vineyard until May, he said. This is because of runway work at Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Katama Airfield isn’t long enough to support Boston MedFlight fixed-wing aircraft, he said, so that closes out the Island for the option.