Ind. Nursing Students Check Out Air Ambulances
The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.
July 06—About 50 nursing students saw what it's like Thursday to work inside the confined space of an air ambulance.
A team from IU Health Lifeline Critical Care Transport landed at Ivy Tech's south campus in the Vigo County Industrial Park and allowed students to look inside the high-tech helicopter.
"It's part of our responsibility to the community, to work with Ivy Tech and Indiana State University and local fire departments," said Robert Abbinett, regional base supervisor for LifeLine, as students asked questions of the flight crew. "We want them to know what to look for and how to communicate with us."
LifeLine has a base at Terre Haute Regional Airport where one helicopter and one ambulance are on standby around the clock.
Flight nurse Blake Randolph said the teams work in 12-hour shifts, and the job is not one for beginners in the nursing field.
"You need to be leaders in your area, maybe having teaching and training experience," Randolph said. "There's no other job quite like it.
A Terre Haute native, Abbinett said he went to nursing school at the suggestion of his wife, and he worked at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for about 11 years to gain experience and training to join the LifeLine team.
A three-person flight team includes a pilot—usually a person with military flight background—a critical care paramedic and a critical care nurse. The ambulance team includes an emergency medical technician for ground transport.
LifeLine flew its first mission in July 1979. In 2005, the service merged with Riley Hospital for Children to form the critical care transport team.
Five Lifeline flight bases are located around the state—Indianapolis, Richmond, Terre Haute, Columbus and Lafayette—with ambulances also located in Terre Haute and Lafayette.
Not every incident qualifies for a LifeLine call-out, Abbinett said. Criteria include major trauma, explosions, mass casualty, serious motorcycle or farm accidents, and Level 1 medical episodes, such as heart attack or stroke.
Medics and nurses must have three to five years of high-incident training in emergency rooms or intensive care units, he said, due to the need to function independently and make decisions about patient care.
Ivy Tech instructor Jerri Taylor said she tries to bring the LifeLine team to the campus for each group of nursing students in the associate's degree program. Many will go on to become registered nurses.
"It's not a mandatory part of their education," Taylor said. "It's to show them all the different opportunities that exist for RNs."