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Some of you know that I am a helicopter pilot and flew medivac for a number of years. Earlier today one of my friends called to tell me that there was a helicopter in the field by Kaiser Hospital about a mile from where I live. So, being the aviation geek that I am…along with being a photographer, I grabbed my camera bag, jumped in my Jeep and headed over to Vallecito Elementary School to check it out.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @18mm – Exposure: 1/400 Second @ f/11 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill

The helicopter that I found is a Eurocopter EC145 from the Stanford University Hospital Life Flight program that was doing an interfacility transfer of a patient from Kaiser back to Stanford. While the helicopter flies for Stanford, it is owned and operated by Air Methods based out of Englewood, CO. Air Methods is one of, if not, the largest medivac operator in the country.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @20mm – Exposure: 1/40 Second @ f/11 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill

Besides being twin-engine and single pilot IFR certified, the aft cabin is one of the largest in the medivac industry. Having room for a medcrew of three ensures that the patient will get only the best of care. Medivac helicopters have many of the same specialized medical equipment that is found in hospital emergency rooms… defibrillators, suction, medical oxygen, the ability to intubate the patient, and many life saving medications.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @50mm – Exposure: 1/80 Second @ f/11 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill

The speed that helicopters brings to patient transport can mean the difference between life and death in many cases. The pilot told me that the flight from Stanford to San Rafael took all of 23 minutes. The drive to Stanford, which I do from time to time as my primary care physician for the past 22 years is there, takes about an hour and a half. Needless to say, when transporting a critically ill patient from one hospital to another, or taking a seriously injured accident victim to a trauma center, speed is of the utmost importance.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L @180mm – Exposure: 1/250 Second @ f/6.3 ISO100

The standard medical crew for most medivac operations consists of a Flight Nurse and a Flight Medic. All programs have minimum requirements for each position that usually specify a number of years of experience. The Flight Nurse is usually required to have several years of experience in either the ER, the ICU, or the CCU. The Flight Medic will usually have a minimum of two to three years experience in the field either working with a fire department or with an ambulance company. Having a RN and a Paramedic working in tandem ensures that the patient is well taken care of. The nurse has the clinical skill and knowledge, while the medic has the street trauma experience and is usually the crewmember that starts IV’s and intubates that patients. For many medics and nurses, being a crewmember on a medivac helicopter is the pinnacle of their career.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L @70mm – Exposure: 1/160 Second @ f/11 ISO100

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L @200mm – Exposure: 1/125 Second @ f/11 ISO100

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L @200mm – Exposure: 1/160 Second @ f/11 ISO100

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L @200mm – Exposure: 1/640 Second @ f/6.3 ISO100

Just know that if you, or a loved one, are ever is in a situation where you are transported by a medivac helicopter, you are in hands of some of the best professionals in the business.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L @70mm – Exposure: 1/200 Second @ f/11 ISO100

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