Making The Right (Med Flight) Call

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

Life-threatening injuries to one crash victim prompt an urgent call.
According to Sergeant Michelle Shelhamer, of the Dane County Sheriff's Department, "Med Flight was called. They were dropping a patient is my understanding, and they said they could be here in 15 minutes, however EMS chose to transport."

It's a five to $7,000 decision which requires more consideration than many may realize.

"It's a big responsibility for those asking us to come out and assist," says Mark Hanson, the Director of UW Hospital's Med Flight Program.

He explains the decision to utilize one of Med Flight's two available helicopters is made when specific criteria are met at the scene, adding it's the responsibility of responding emergency personnel to make the call.

"If the determination is made that they physician and nurse could benefit this patient, as well as the speed and transport that we afford, that's when Med Flight is requested," Hanson explains.

He also maintains Med Flight Unit cannot respond to about a third of its requests each year due to weather concerns, or because the vehicles are already responding to other calls. He does say, however, that Med Flight manages to accept more than 1,200 calls each year.

"We don't go out to accidents or crashes that don't require the level of care that we, we do," Hanson adds.

Nationwide, Hanson says the UW's Med Flight program is one of very few to include a doctor on-board.

2005 marks the UW Med Flight program's 20th anniversary. Hanson says renovations are currently underway to streamline the process of admitting Med Flight patients to the UW Hospital emergency room.

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