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  • CareFlight Marks 20 Years of Service to Aberdeen Region

Published on September 04, 2012

In 2012, CareFlight Marks 20 Years of Service to Aberdeen Region

As Avera St. Luke’s CareFlight celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012, the emergency air transport service remains dedicated to meeting the needs of the Aberdeen region’s critically ill and injured. Handling trauma efficiently is the specialty of CareFlight, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An open house celebration was held Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. The hospital kicked off the next decade with an all-new, specially painted green and white Bell 407 CareFlight helicopter.

Two winners of a contest to “Guess the number of CareFlight flights” over the past two decades received special prizes at the open house:

  • A ride on the helicopter and a CareFlight membership, which provides emergency air transport services via CareFlight, if needed
  • A ride on the CareFlight helicopter, plus a CareFlight sweatshirt

CareFlight provides both scene flights in the Aberdeen region and transfer flights to tertiary centers as far away as Minneapolis or the Mayo Clinic, with a medical team that includes a registered nurse with special advanced training and a paramedic, along with the pilot. Rapid response and the high level of advanced technologies available at Avera St. Luke’s and its Emergency Department could make the difference in survival and recovery.

The hospital is in the process of advancing to a Level III trauma center, which should happen in summer 2013. “As we continue improving our services here, fewer and fewer people will be transferred to another facility for a higher level of care,” said Carna Atherton-Pray, director of Emergency and Outpatient Services at Avera St. Luke’s.

While patients with cardiac problems are most often transported, CareFlight has carried people suffering from cancer, renal failure, gunshot wounds, motor vehicle accidents, pneumonia, near drowning, drug overdose, shock, aneurysms and more.

Bill Pollard, a paramedic with CareFlight who has worked at Avera St. Luke’s since 1999, recorded his 1,000th flight on Nov. 7, 2011. “Although it’s challenging, I feel that every day I’m fulfilled with knowing that through this program, I have made a difference in someone’s life,” he said. Pollard’s most memorable flight was an Aberdeen man impaled with a large grapple hook, brought to Avera St. Luke’s on the CareFlight helicopter. The tine was still completely inserted in his body. Crucial and challenging teamwork at the farm and the hospital led to a positive outcome, and the man was saved.

Avera St. Luke's CareFlight contracts with Med-Trans Corp., a leading provider of air ambulance programs in the United States.