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Premier Health’s Mandy Via, BSN, RN, EMT-P, CEN and Outreach Manager for CareFlight Air and Mobile Services answers Frequently Asked Questions about CareFlight.


    What is CareFlight Air and Mobile Services?

    Premier Health’s CareFlight Air and Mobile Services is a rapid medical critical care transport system for seriously ill patients or those with a life-threatening traumatic injury. 

    The four CareFlight helicopters can carry a pilot, two flight nurses and two patients. They fly at speeds of 180 mph or more. Highly trained flight nurses provide a wide range of emergency and intensive care services. 

    The six ground-based Medical Intensive Care Units (MICUs) include a flight nurse and a critical care paramedic.

    How is the decision made to call a CareFlight helicopter? 

    CareFlight Air and Mobile Services responds to two different types of transport requests. The first is an “inter-facility transport.” This means that we move a patient from one hospital or freestanding Emergency Department to a larger or more specialized hospital. In these cases, the decision to use a helicopter is made by the doctor who is caring for the patient. The second is a “scene flight.” This is when emergency medical personnel evaluating and treating a patient at the scene of an incident determine he or she needs to be transported rapidly to a hospital.

    Who provides care and treatment on the CareFlight helicopters and MICUs? 

    The helicopter is staffed with two flight nurses who are dually certified as paramedics and have a minimum of three to five years of critical care experience. The Mobile Intensive Care Unit is staffed with one flight nurse, and one paramedic who also has a minimum of three to five years of 911 experience. They are certified in:

    • Basic life support (BLS)
    • Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)
    • Pediatric advanced life support (PALS)
    • International trauma life (ITLS)
    • Advanced trauma life support (ATLS audit)
    • Neonatal resuscitation program (NRP)

    Our medical crews also hold professional certifications such as:

    • Certified Flight Nurse
    • Certified Critical Care Nurse
    • Certified Emergency Nurse
    • Certified Critical Care Paramedic
    • Certified Flight Paramedic

    Our medical crews are highly skilled in advanced medical treatments, including:

    • Advanced breathing tube placement (rapid sequence intubation)
    • Creating a surgical airway by needle or incision (needle or surgical cricothyrotomy)
    • Using a needle to remove fluid or air from the pleura space around the lungs (needle decompression)
    • Chest tube placement
    • Evacuating blood between the sac that encompasses the heart (pericardiocentesis)
    • Injecting fluids and medicine directly into the bone marrow when venous access is not possible (EZ IO placement)

    The training required for breathing tube placement (intubation) is ongoing and is taken very seriously. Flight nurses and paramedics must obtain 10 successful intubations in the operating room and one successful placement of a laryngeal mask airway before being allowed to intubate in the field.

    In their first year at CareFlight, employees must perform a minimum of two intubations a month. After one year, crew must perform one intubation each month.

    Our crews also are tested and trained throughout the year on various treatment protocols, advanced procedures, equipment and patient simulator testing. We are always learning and staying up to date so that we can provide the best care to you or your family.

    After speed, what benefits does a transfer by CareFlight provide?

    Flight nurses have training beyond the scope of paramedics in the field. CareFlight may be called if the on-site EMS crew is a volunteer group, or if a patient needs more advanced treatment than the EMTs at the scene can provide.

    Our team is also highly trained in different types of breathing tube placements, such as rapid sequence intubation. Some EMS agencies rely on CareFlight to sedate patients or use paralytic medicines to quickly and safely open an airway.

    Referring facilities or hospitals may request the helicopter if a patient needs a higher level of care or access to medical specialists. These inter-facility transports often involve patients with a combination of needs, such as medical, trauma, direct to operating room, cardiac and stroke alerts. 

    How large is the CareFlight service area and which facilities does it serve?

    The CareFlight helicopters typically cover a 150-mile radius around Dayton. If a patient needs to be transported outside of our typical range, we will facilitate the necessary transfer.

    The mobile Medical Intensive Care Units (MICUs) serve a 75-mile radius from Dayton.

    CareFlight and MICU services are available 24 hours a day. 

    The CareFlight program connects more than 40 hospitals, 300 community life squads, and fire and police departments in 17 counties.

    We serve patients within and outside of Premier Health. Our inter-facility transports take patients to many hospitals, including, but not limited to:

    • Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati
    • The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati
    • Cleveland Clinic
    • Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro
    • Joint Township District Memorial in Grand Lake St. Mary’s
    • Kettering Medical Center
    • Mercer Coldwater Hospital
    • Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana
    • The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
    • Springfield Regional Hospital
    • University of Cincinnati Medical Center
    • Wilson Memorial in Sidney

    Patients transported from the scene often are flown to Miami Valley Hospital or the closest Level I Trauma Center (such as University of Cincinnati Medical Center or The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.) Pediatric patients are taken to the closest pediatric trauma center. 

    What kinds of patients are involved in an inter-facility transport?

    Interfacility transports involve a wide variety of patients. 

    Cardiac patients, who:

    • Are having a heart attack
    • Need evaluation for heart transplant or ventricular assist device
    • Are experiencing life-threatening irregular heart rhythms, and 
    • Require intensive treatment for heart failure 

    Neurology patients, including those experiencing:

    • Ischemic stroke and need clot busting tPA medication or Interventional Radiology 
    • Hemorrhagic stroke 
    • A seizure longer than five minutes or multiple seizures within five minutes (status epilepticus)
    • New brain tumors or masses
    • Symptoms that require evaluation by a neurologist or neurosurgeon 

    High-risk obstetric patients with symptoms such as:

    • Preterm labor
    • Pre-eclampsia
    • Eclampsia
    • Premature rupture of membranes
    • Any symptoms that may threaten the life of the mother or infant

    Intensive care patients with many serious conditions, including:

    • Septic shock 
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis 
    • Continuous asthma attacks (status asthmaticus)

    Learn more:

    What kinds of patients are flown on scene flights?

    Most patients transported from the scene of an incident are trauma patients. Trauma patients include people injured in many different ways, such as:

    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Gun shot wounds
    • Stabbings
    • Motorcycle accidents
    • ATV accidents
    • Pedestrian struck by a vehicle
    • Falls from significant heights
    • Burns

    Cardiac alert and stroke alert patients also are often transported from the scene.

    Cardiac alert. These patients show signs of a heart attack. The EMS team onsite will perform an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check the electrical activity of the patient’s heart. The results are sent to a doctor. If EMS and the doctor agree the patient is having a heart attack, he or she is flown to the closest facility with an interventional cardiac catheterization lab to treat and manage the blockage causing the heart attack.

    Stroke alert. These patients are experiencing stroke-like symptoms that began within a three-hour window. These patients are taken to the closest certified stroke care facility, where they can receive a variety of treatments, including interventional radiology. Nearby centers include Miami Valley Hospital’s Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center and the Advanced Primary Stroke Centers at Atrium Medical Center. Upper Valley Medical Center is an Acute Stroke Ready hospital.

    Learn more:


    Does CareFlight offer ride-along experiences?

    Our CareFlight Air and Mobile Services crews invite first responders to observe our work each spring and fall. We invite doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, dispatchers, respiratory therapists and police officers to join us for two eight-hour shifts at Miami Valley Hospital or a remote base.

    Participants must:

    • Complete a safety briefing at the beginning of each shift
    • Sign a waiver and confidentiality agreement
    • Show certification cards and photo ID
    • Wear proper professional attire: dark pants, white shirt and sturdy, hard-soled shoes. (Scrubs, jeans or tennis shoes will not be permitted.)

    No cameras or video equipment is allowed during patient transports.

    In addition, a participant's weight may not exceed 225 pounds (fully clothed, including helmet) and height must be under 6' 2" for aircraft rides. Federal regulations require that aircraft riders must be weighed prior to any observation experience.

    Mobile Intensive Care Unit riders do not have height and weight regulations.

    Content Updated: October 29, 2018

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