Watertown Daily Times: Gouverneur Rescue Squad promotes SOAR campaign

The Gouverneur Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Adirondack Rafting Co. have joined the Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR) coalition. SOAR is a national campaign dedicated to preserving access to emergency air medical services for Americans across the country.


In the event of critical illness, severe injury or trauma, emergency air medical services provide transportation for patients, particularly in rural communities with limited access to hospitals, emergency rooms or trauma centers.

Source: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news05/...

The Capitolist: Searching for Solutions to the High Price of Air Ambulances

By John Lucas

It was Super Bowl weekend 2001.

Tampa was playing host to the big game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants.

As 41- year-old Robin Powell left work that Friday night, she warned her coworkers to be cautious on the roads. Little did she know they were words of caution that would apply to her the following Saturday morning.

“I did not know when I left the house about 10 in the morning, I did not know my life was going to change in less than two hours later,” says Powell.

At 11:45 a.m. the car that Powell was riding in was hit head-on by a 21-year-old woman who had worked overnight and decided to spend the morning drinking.

“I could hear all the screams in the background with tears and all of that,”  Powell clearly recalls that morning. “My son would not leave my side. I couldn’t talk with him. I couldn’t say baby it is going to be okay. I couldn’t tell him I love him.”

Her neck was broken. Time was of the essence. Traffic was heavy because of the big weekend.

Paramedics decided to call in an air medical service to airlift Powell to a nearby hospital. It was a decision that she’s convinced saved her life.

“To this day I owe them my life.”

Medical experts say access to a Level I or Level II trauma facility within an hour after a person suffers a major medical problem is critical to ensuring a positive outcome.

With the current network of ground and air ambulances, most Floridians are within an hour of a Level I or Level II facility.

But, emergency air medical services are facing a financial strain that threatens their survival both here in Florida and across the nation.

There are about 30 air medical service bases in Florida. Two bases, covering the Key West and Tallahassee areas, were recently forced to close.

“I think it’s in a fragile state right now,” said Paul Webster, an air medical service based in Colorado. “The services exist and the access exists for 98 percent of Floridians. But, that is at risk because of reimbursement challenges in terms of covering costs.”

Webster is working with emergency air ambulance services across the country to secure their financial existence.

He says it takes about $3 million a year to operate an air medical services base.

The median cost of an emergency air transport is $10,200.

The problem is that seven of every 10 emergency airlifts involve patients who are covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or don’t have insurance at all.  In those cases, emergency air medical transportation services get little or no compensation.

Medicaid reimburses air medical services in Florida about $1200. Medicare covers about $5000 of the costs. In the case of those with no insurance, the air ambulance service is left holding the entire bill.

Webster says there is a basic question facing air medical services, “At the end of the day, when the dust settles, is the provider able to collect enough reimbursement to cover the cost of having that access in that community?”

That’s a question also being asked by the Emergency Medical Transportation Working Group that was created by Florida’s Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate. The group, which includes representatives from air ambulance providers, insurers, patient advocates, doctors, and local governments, is studying the issue of reimbursement rates for air ambulance transportation service.

The group is spending a year gathering information and analyzing data on how best to address the needs of air medical services, the insurance industry and consumers.

The issue comes down to money. How much should emergency medical air services be compensated for the work they perform?

But, for Robin Powell the debate goes beyond money. She sees the issue in a different context and asks what the cost might be if there is no air medical service available in an emergency situation.

“The odds are you may never need it in your lifetime. But what if you need it one time. I’m 57 years old now and I didn’t know back when I was 41 years old that I would need it one day. Thank God it was there for me."

Source: http://thecapitolist.com/searching-for-sol...

Valley News: Emergency responders need air medical services to save lives

By Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown

As the fire chief of Hemet, we never know when our firefighters and paramedics will need to be deployed to respond to an emergency, but we’re always ready. When families in our community face an unexpected incident or medical emergency, we will be there as quickly as possible to ensure they get the appropriate level care they need from the nearest hospital.

During any medical emergency, every decision we make can mean the difference between life and death.  For many who live in the rural pockets of Southern California – up to 100 miles away from the nearest hospital – emergency air medical services is the only option. In fact, across the country, there are 85 million Americans who live in a rural area that is more than an hour from a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center if driven by ground ambulance.

As a former flight paramedic and having served as a firefighter and paramedic for the Orange County Fire Authority for 18 years, I saw firsthand the difference air medical services could make for patients. In the air, patients receive critical care from highly-trained flight doctors, nurses and paramedics. From strokes to car accidents to heart attacks to other traumatic injuries, we always knew that getting patients the right care in the right amount of time was imperative for saving their lives.

While the benefits of these air services are clear, they are increasingly threatened across California and the nation. The reimbursement rates provided by Medicaid and Medicare fail to cover a significant portion of the cost to operate these services, which is alarming when you consider that 70 percent of transport patients are covered by government insurance or have no insurance at all.

We need Congress to address this funding challenge, or Californians may have to face serious consequences when they or their families face medical emergencies. Just a few months ago, an Air Methods base recently closed in Hazard, Kentucky, and they were forced to shut down because of the cost deficit from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Thankfully, efforts are underway to preserve emergency air medical services. Initiatives like the “Save Our Air Medical Resources” campaign are working to educate the public on the problems and possible solutions surrounding continued air medical services. There are also leaders in Congress, like Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-CA 36, a former emergency room doctor, who understand the importance of these services in saving patients’ lives.

Whether by ground ambulance, air medical transport or on the scene, we need all treatment and transport options available because we know every choice we make counts.  It is essential we do everything we can to protect and preserve access to emergency air medical services so that they remain a realistic, life-saving option for everyone.

Scott Brown is the Hemet fire chief and has served as a paramedic for the Orange County Fire Authority for 18 years.

Source: http://myvalleynews.com/opinion/emergency-...

Austin American-Statesman: Stroke awareness month shows need for lifesaving health care

By Dr. Justin Fairless

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It was elevated for recognition by former President George H.W. Bush for a significant reason.

A stroke occurs in the United States approximately once every forty seconds and remains the leading cause of long-term disability that Americans face.

Consequently, almost everyone has a connection to someone who has had a stroke, whether it be a friend or family member. Strokes can be terrifying for those who suffer them, either personally or for loved ones as well.

Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is stopped, either from a hemorrhage within the brain or because of a blood clot. The brain literally starts to die one cell at a time.

The unfortunately result of a stroke is something we see in our daily lives. We have all seen those individuals in public, displaying the signs of a previous stroke; limited bodily function and mobility in their arms, legs, and face.

None of us wants to suffer this fate. The good news is that strokes are largely preventable, treatable, and beatable if treated quickly.

Since around two million brain cells die each minute that a stroke goes untreated, every minute counts and awareness and quick treatment are crucial to minimizing the debilitating, long-term effects.

This May, a coalition of medical professionals known as “Save Our Air Medical Resources” (SOARcampaign.com) is working hard to ensure that access to air medical helicopter transport, a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating sudden events like stroke and heart attacks, is not jeopardized here in Texas or across the country.

Twenty-two percent of our country’s hospitals have closed since 1990 and unfortunately this vital service is threatened by the same economic and political vice grip that has affecting many aspects of healthcare.

Thankfully, Texans are leading the way to making sure this service is not lost for those of us who need it.

In our Texas State Legislature, Dr. John Zerwas (R-Richmond), who serves as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has filed House Bill 935 to address keeping this vital service alive and well in our state.

On the national level, in the last Congress, Texas Congressmen Pete Sessions (R-Dallas), Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) and Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) led the way in supporting H.R. 822 to improve and update Medicare reimbursements for air medical transport services. While H.B. 822 fell short, new legislation will be filed that aims to preserve this vital service nationwide.

Life-threatening emergencies, such as strokes, heart attacks, and major trauma urgently demand the right care and the right facility. As hospitals continue to close their doors and distances between patients and the critical care facilities become greater, air medical transport is more important than ever.

At present, eighty-five million Americans — only one in four of us — can reach a Level I or Level II trauma care facility within an hour of an accident happening only if they are flown by helicopter. The same can be said for specialty cardiac and stroke centers when these emergencies occur.

Fortunately, air medical transport professionals (flight nurses and paramedics) are trained to manage and treat stroke patients and get them to the right facility, a stroke center capable of treatment — quickly.

National Stroke Awareness Month is an important time each year to raise awareness about how to prevent and treat strokes, and to focus on the life-saving care that thousands of stroke patients require. Preserving emergency air medical services is a critically important piece to this puzzle.

Fairless is a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and currently serves as the medical director for Native Air Texas and New Mexico Air Ambulance (Air Methods Corporation.)

Source: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/opinion/op...

Tallahassee Democrat: Need for quick emergency care in rural communities critical

By Laura Hampson and Sarah Catalanotto, Florida Rural Health Association

Picture this: A loved one suffers a medical emergency or has an accident that leaves them in desperate need of professional medical attention. For many Floridians in rural counties with limited access to trauma centers, that can be a startling, scary reality.

During a medical emergency, it is absolutely critical to get access to quality care as quickly as possible. That’s why air medical services are so crucial for Florida’s more rural counties, including those that surround the Tallahassee area.

Consider, as just one example, the recent major car crash involving a drunk driver in Gadsden County. Five individuals were seriously injured and required fast emergency medical transportation, including an air ambulance. Incidents like this emphasize the critical need for emergency air medical services to protect our communities.

Source: http://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/2...

Gadsden County Times: Why rural areas need expedited care

By Laura Hampson and Sarah Catalanotto, Florida Rural Health Association

Picture this: A loved one suffers a medical emergency or has an accident that leaves them in desperate need of professional medical attention. For many Floridians in rural counties with limited access to trauma centers, that can be a startling, scary reality.

During a medical emergency, it is absolutely critical to get access to quality care as quickly as possible. That’s why air medical services are so crucial for Florida’s more rural counties, including those that surround the Tallahassee area.

Consider, as just one example, the recent major car crash involving a drunk driver in Gadsden County. Five individuals were seriously injured and required fast emergency medical transportation, including an air ambulance. Incidents like this emphasize the critical need for emergency air medical services to protect our communities.

While the benefits of these air services are clear, they are increasingly threatened across Florida and the nation. The reimbursement rates provided by Medicaid and Medicare fail to cover a significant portion of the cost to operate these services, which is alarming when you consider that 70 percent of transport patients are covered by government insurance or have no insurance at all.

The funding dilemma is having serious consequences in rural Florida communities. Just a few months ago, the Tallahassee air medical base was forced to shut down because of a lack of funds to support its operations.

Emergency air medical helicopters are essentially emergency rooms in the sky providing critical care by highly-trained flight doctors, nurses, and paramedics. Keeping a state-of-the-art air ambulance and trained crew on standby 24/7 undoubtedly carries significant hard costs. This includes equipment costs, structural overhead, and the expense of keeping a base at the ready around the clock, every day of the year. But the expense is necessary to ensure that people in rural communities have the peace of mind of knowing they can be taken care of quickly in the event of a serious medical emergency.

In our role as comanagers with the Florida Rural Health Association, we know how important these services are and how much harm is caused by the current lack of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement funding.

This is especially true for the more rural counties across the state. Only two-thirds of Floridians live within an hour of a Level I or Level II trauma center by ground ambulance. The rest must rely on emergency air medical services in order to quickly get to appropriate trauma centers.

Thankfully, efforts are underway to fight the threat to emergency air medical services. Initiatives like the Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR) campaign are working to educate the public on the problems and possible solutions surrounding continued air medical services.

You can’t plan where or when an emergency will happen. Whether it’s a heart attack, stroke, car accident, or other type of unexpected incident, you must be able to trust that the medical services you need will be there when you need them.

And in a state with as many rural areas as Florida, it’s especially important that air medical services remain a realistic option for everyone.

Laura Hampson and Sarah Catalanotto serve as co-managers of the Florida Rural Health Association, an organization that works to safeguard and improve the health of rural Floridians.


 

Waco Tribune-Herald: Air medical services pretty relevant when strokes threaten lives

By Justin Fairless

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It was elevated for recognition by former President George H.W. Bush for a significant reason. A stroke occurs in the United States every 40 seconds and remains the leading cause of long-term disability that Americans face. Consequently, almost everyone has a connection to someone who has had a stroke, whether it be a friend or family member. Strokes can be terrifying for those who suffer them as well as loved ones.

Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is stopped, either from a hemorrhage within the brain or because of a blood clot. The brain literally starts to die one cell at a time. The unfortunate result of a stroke is something we see in our daily lives. We have all seen those individuals in public, displaying the signs of a previous stroke: limited bodily function and mobility in their arms, legs and face.

None of us wants to suffer this fate. The good news is that strokes are largely preventable, treatable and beatable if treated quickly. But since around 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated, every minute counts and awareness and quick treatment are crucial to minimizing the debilitating, long-term effects.

This May, a coalition of medical professionals known as “Save Our Air Medical Resources” is working hard to ensure that access to air medical helicopter transport — a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating sudden events like stroke and heart attacks — is not jeopardized here in Texas or across the country. Twenty-two percent of our country’s hospitals have closed since 1990 and unfortunately this vital service is threatened by the same economic and political vice grip that has affected many aspects of health care.

Source: http://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/columns/gu...

Press-Enterprise: Congressman touts benefits of air medical services in tour of Hemet base

By Craig Shultz

Following a two-car crash east of Hemet Monday evening, May 8, a patient was airlifted by Mercy Air to Riverside University Health Services Medical Center for treatment.

Rep Raul Ruiz, D-La Quinta, a former emergency room and emergency flight doctor, wants to ensure that such services continue to be offered.

He visited Mercy Air personnel at Hemet Fire Station 4 on Tuesday, May 9, and promoted the benefits of aeromedical care. The station is adjacent to Hemet Ryan Airport, from where Mercy Air flies.

“This is a very pragmatic need that many people throughout the United States require,” Ruiz said.

Source: http://www.pe.com/2017/05/09/congressman-t...

The Ledger Independent: Drunk driving program shows drunk driving effects

By Christy Howell-Hoots

Juniors and seniors from Bracken County High School and Augusta Independent School were shown the possible effects of driving under the influence Friday.

During a mock drunk driving accident, students sat on bleachers as tarps were removed to reveal two crashed vehicles with people trapped inside. In one vehicle was Bracken County High School Senior Josiah Mayfield, covered in fake blood and surrounded by open beer cans.

Mayfield was removed from the car by Bracken County Sheriff's Deputy Ian Kelsch and forced to stand with hands cuffed and watch as others were removed from the second vehicle.

In the second vehicle were two injured girls, who were taken from the school and placed in an ambulance before being transported further from the lot to meet the Air Evac helicopter.

Source: http://www.maysville-online.com/news/local...

The Times leader: Ferry students see results of crash

By Dylan McKenzie

Martins Ferry High School students took a grim look at the potential consequences of drinking and driving Thursday.

The school coordinated with Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital, the Martins Ferry Police Department, Martins Ferry Volunteer Fire Department and the Air Evac Lifeteam to put on a mock crash for the students, to help show them what can happen as a result of drunk driving. Such a message is especially important at this time of year, considering the MFHS prom is coming up on May 13. When the demonstration began, students were treated to the grim sight of a two-vehicle accident, with five “victims” portrayed by student actors. When a Martins Ferry police officer arrived on scene, he immediately called for emergency medical services upon seeing the one “dead victim” and several more “injured.” The Martins Ferry and Colerain volunteer fire departments arrived and soon called for an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter to take a “critically injured” girl for better care. The firefighters also used the Jaws of Life to remove a door on the car to reach a third wounded passenger. When the scenario was finished, one student enactor was dead, another taken by helicopter to the hospital and the others taken to local medical centers, leaving behind two broken vehicles and the eerie knowledge that this could happen to anyone.

“At the end of it, one friend who we know, who we’ve grown up with, is gone,” said high school Principal Joe Mamone. “Where do you pick up the pieces from here?”

Source: http/wwwtimesleaderonlinecom/news/local-ne...