Monday afternoon just before sunset, a helicopter landed on the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus, bringing with it a valuable experience for students in the Emergency Medical Technology program.
The Air Evac Lifeteam crew 149, based at Baptist Hospital in Fort Smith, landed on the UAFS intramural field, where a dozen students eagerly awaited a hands-on lesson on safety procedures and flight operation basics.
Flight nurse Chris Doyle, who earned his bachelor of science in nursing from UAFS in 2013, showed students around the helicopter, emphasizing safe practices and understanding. “We do these visits to show the safety of the aircraft,” he explained. “It’s nice to get them in here so they can interact with it, so they aren’t so nervous around the aircraft when they do get out in the field.”
Students toured the aircraft, while crew members explained hand signals to indicate safe movement under propellers, visibility zones when transporting patients to and from the aircraft, and procedures flight nurses use to care for patients in transport.
In addition to the operations students will need to know when transporting patients, students also learned procedures for securing the scene of an aircraft crash.
The EMT program at UAFS offers students an 8-hour introductory course in emergency medical service systems and the basic principles of emergency care. Students who complete the program have gone on to serve as EMTs on ambulances, oil rigs, and emergency rooms; entered paramedic school; and enrolled in competitive graduate schools for nursing and medical fields, explained Ryan S. Rowe, EMT instructor.
Air Evac EMS, Inc., which operates Air Evac Lifeteam operates at more than 140 mutually supporting air medical bases across 15 states.