Our EC145 aircraft have the capability to fly two patients. However, doing this is never our preference. Those of us who have had the chance to fly two patients can attest that it’s quite challenging, especially if one or both are truly critically injured. Your crew:patient ratio is halved. And if you’ve ever thought that ergonomically your space was limited in the helicopter with only one patient, it’s much worse when there are two. Therefore, we always teach our EMS colleagues: if you’ve got two patients you need to fly, ask for two helicopters.
That being said, occasionally the situation arises, for any number of possible reasons, when you arrive at a scene, having been the only helicopter requested, and a surprise second critically injured patient materializes and also needs to be flown. In this instance, if getting a second aircraft to the scene would involve a significant delay, we should be able and ready to fly two patients, since our EC145s have that capability. The reconfiguration procedure is not terribly difficult, but if you’ve never practiced it hands-on, you’re going to struggle. Whether you’re a pilot, nurse, NP, or doc, please take a gander at the attached video and then practice this procedure repeatedly during your daily aircraft checks until you’re certain you could pull it off when the real-life need arises. There is a comedic interlude involving Dr. Steuerwald which, if nothing else, will make the 10 minutes’ view-time well worth your while.
This will be our last operations-related post in the unveiling of the asynchronous ACMC flight doc orientation curriculum. Later this week, we'll be transitioning to more clinical topics, beginning with tourniquets.