"That's when you go home at night and give your parents a call," Tripp added. They are reminded every day that you cannot take your family for granted.
When emergency situations involve a child, the crew admits that they would not be human if that did not affect them and their response. Though it makes their job more difficult, they remember their training and get to work before everything sets in.
A seat, up front in the cockpit with the pilot, is available for a family member. Decisions on whether or not to allow a family member are made on a case-by-base basis. The crew factors in weight already inside the aircraft and the condition of the family member.
Mercy One rotates its crews between Knoxville and Des Moines. The differences between responding in the more urban setting of Des Moines, versus Knoxville, which serves the southeast cooridor of Iowa, is the trips can be a little longer. Cochran believes, too, that responding to calls in the rural area makes the experience more like providing an ambulance service, whereas in Des Moines, the helicopter seems like more of an extension of the hospital.
When not responding to a call, the crew spends their time keeping up with training, updated protocols and continuing their education. Air Methods and the Federal Aviation Administration requires continued training.
Winter said Air Methods has annual training that requires a number of take offs and landings for pilots to be certified. This includes night runs, during which he utilizes night-vision goggles. Inside the aircraft is well-lit to allow the medical team to do their job well, even at night.
Protocols are always on the cutting edge, according to Cochran. There may be two or three modifications made each month and the protocol book is two to three inches thick.