Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! … It's a plane! Actually, if you're within 150 miles of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in Wisconsin or Mankato Regional Airport in Minnesota, it could also be one of Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service's emergency medical helicopters, known as Mayo One, on its way to answer another call for a trauma patient air transport.
As Rochester Magazine's Steve Lange recently wrote, the crew inside has everything it needs to handle emergencies and safely get patients to a Mayo hospital. "Each Mayo One helicopter — and there are now four of them — carries a ventilator, IV fluids, 70 medications, various blood products, a handheld blood analysis lab, and, sometimes, an isolette for preemies," Lange writes. "The three-member crew in the retrofitted Airbus EC145 can transport critical patients up to 150 miles one way, insert a chest tube, realign a broken femur, and transfuse blood."
And they can do it all, Lange writes, "at 130 miles per hour, and 5,000 feet above the ground."
Lange writes that "stats-wise," the most common patients in need of Mayo One's in-air emergency medical transport services are "a 55-year-old male in cardiac arrest" or someone who's taken a nasty fall. "Falls are the leading cause of trauma in Minnesota," Meghan Lamp, a Mayo One flight nurse for 26 years, tells the magazine.
Crew members say that the most memorable calls are also some of the most harrowing. One example: a call in 2012 that came in after Nels Gunderson severed a leg in a farming accident. "Mayo One — which had been dispatched when the first 911 call came in — landed just minutes later," Lange writes. "They administered seven pints of blood en route to surgery at Mayo Clinic." Gunderson "not only survived" but was back home just days later.
Amber Manning found herself in a Mayo One helicopter in 2015 after she "would not stop hemorrhaging" following an emergency C-section that quickly turned into an emergency hysterectomy. "The Mayo One crew was able to administer blood and plasma on the flight to Mayo Clinic," Lange writes. Thanks to this care, Lange writes that — just like Nels Gunderson — "Amber (and her daughter, Amaya) survived."
And for the "roughly 100 team members — including 30 nurses, 30 paramedics, 10 mechanics and two dozen pilots" who, Lange writes, "make up Mayo Clinic's medical helicopter (and airplane) units," outcomes like that are what make it worthwhile. "There are many things that are very rewarding about taking care of patients in some of the worst situations they'll ever face," Lamp says. "And you do it together. Your crew becomes like your family."
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