Posted 24 days ago ago by Admin
“Teamwork makes the dream work.” Is that true in helicopter air ambulance work?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary the definition of teamwork is “cooperative effort by the members of a group or team to achieve a common goal.”
I recently visited Atrium Health’s MedCenter Air operation in Charlotte, North Carolina. (See story on Page 49.) Working with their teams reminded me of when I used to fly helicopter air ambulance, how complicated the work is, and how success hinges on many moving parts working together as a whole. If only one of the parts fails or falls short, desired outcomes may fall short as well.
I remember when I was a new air ambulance pilot, we were shut down on a highway waiting for two patients involved in a DUI, head-on accident, to be extricated from their vehicles. Given that I was flying an S76C+ helicopter we had the ability to take both patients. The first patient to arrive at the helicopter was in very critical condition and was bleeding out. I was told by the flight nurse that the second patient should be arriving in five minutes to seven minutes. I made the decision that I would keep the helicopter quiet and would start it when I saw the patient being pushed from the scene towards the helicopter.
Once the flight nurse was in the back of the aircraft with
Patient #1, he says to me, “Lyn, she’s bleeding out and I need to get two lines (IVs) in her, can you give me a hand.” Considering that I’d spent10 years on the streets with fire rescue, and had patient-treatment experience, I was faced with a dilemma. Do I quickly hop in the back and help my overtasked flight nurse, or do I focus on the bigger picture and prepare for the second patient to arrive?
Based on the five minutes to seven minutes ETA of Patient #2, I decided to help the flight nurse. Two minutes later, while sitting in the back of the helicopter with an IV tube and a bag of Ringer’s (IV fluid) in my hands, Patient #2 arrives. Imagine everyone’s surprise, mine included, that the pilot is in the back treating the patient and not in the cockpit getting the engines started.
Some might say I was a team player for helping my teammate and colleague at a critical time. Others would say that in the context of the larger goal (getting critical patients to a trauma center as fast as possible), that I let the larger team down by delaying departure by a minute or two. I agree with the latter. In air ambulance, everyone from dispatchers to mechanics to med. crew to pilots, all have an individual job to perform.
So to answer the original question: Yes, teamwork makes the dream work. However, the system and the patients we serve, rely on every person on the team to stay in their lanes and remain hyper-focused on their area of expertise to have ultimate success.
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