Upon arrival at the hospital, or whatever the end point may be, the crew shares the information about the patient they have, which includes the chain of care, describing what has been done to help the patient before their arrival. Even if a patient appears to have died, crew members do not legally have the authority to end treatment and pronounce anyone dead.
"We don't ever stop," Cochran said. "We have to be under direct physician contact."
There are times patients may not be loaded into the helicopter. There are also times doctors will say they have done all that they can for a patient. Tripp said those tough situations exist, but they always offer as much help as they can.
The additional helicopter in Knoxville has allowed Mercy One to respond to hundreds more emergencies than it would have otherwise. Between November 2010 and April 2013, there were 2,004 requests for the Knoxville-based helicopter and 1,114 patient transfers. There were at least a couple hundred more requests not included in which the requests were rescinded.
"The aircraft's been far busier than we ever anticipated," Cochran said. They started smaller because they didn't think they would have many calls for the helicopter.
Cochran said things have gone well in this environment. It has strengthened the hospital's customer relations without taking any business away from the Des Moines air service. The transports made by the Knoxville crew would not have been done if the aircraft was not here.