When a ShandsCair dispatcher contacts Todd Brooks about an accident, he and his flight crew prepare for the worst.
“We’re already en route before the paramedics even truly know they need us,” said Brooks, R.N., EMT-P, C.E.N. “We try to get off the ground as fast as we can.”
As members of ShandsCair’s adult/pediatric flight team, Brooks and a critical care paramedic remain on “flying standby” until first responders tell them whether they need the flight team to arrive at the scene of an accident.
“That cuts off a few minutes right there,” Brooks said, noting that minutes are precious when it comes to reaching a person who is in critical condition.
If it is decided that one or more patients need to be flown to the emergency room, Brooks and a critical care paramedic head straight to the scene, where they evaluate the person and get them into the helicopter. All of this activity happens almost in an instant.
“Our goal is to be on the scene for less than 10 minutes,” Brooks said. “Then we do everything we need to do en route to the hospital.”
While in the helicopter, Brooks and the critical care paramedic work quickly to ensure the patient receives quality care that could potentially save the person’s life.
“ShandsCair works to send the most specialized team for each case,” Brooks said. “It’s not only about sending a team immediately. It’s about sending the best and most appropriate team.”
If a patient is at risk of heart failure, Brooks might use an intra-aortic balloon pump to help the heart pump blood throughout the body until the patient reaches the hospital and undergoes emergency surgery. If a patient is experiencing respiratory failure, Brooks might use rapid sequence intubation to temporarily paralyze the patient and stabilize his or her airways.
But no matter what procedure he is conducting, Brooks stays calm in these often stressful and always fast-acting situations.
Brooks, who is also a teacher to students who plan to enter the field, said he begins his introductory classes by asking students if they consider themselves athletes. He proceeds to ask them what they consider to be the most important game they’ve ever played in, and he uses their responses to put the job of an emergency medical technician into perspective.