A tour bus veers out of control, rolls on its side and traps injured passengers on an interstate highway in southern Minnesota. Seconds count as emergency crews rush to the scene. Fortunately, Mayo One emergency medical helicopter service can be in flight within minutes of dispatch to assist trauma victims and transport them to the nearest medical facility as quickly as possible.
Mayo One has served the Rochester area since 1984. The service was expanded to Mayo Clinic Health System with the addition of bases in Eau Claire in 1993 and Mankato in 2002. All hospitals in Mayo Clinic Health System (except one, in Waseca, Minn.) are equipped with helipads for Mayo One landings.
In addition to emergency transportation, the pilots, flight nurses and flight paramedics of the four Mayo One helicopters operate modern medical care delivery systems. Mayo One and its crews have saved thousands of lives since service began in 1984. Motor vehicle crashes capture the biggest headlines, but many Mayo One transports involve moving patients from rural hospitals to regional medical centers that offer specialized levels of care.
"The situations you encounter in emergency services are exciting, but also gratifying," says Kathy Berns, a certified clinical nurse specialist and flight nurse with Mayo One. "You make a difference for people during the worst day of their life."
As a mobile emergency room, Mayo One has the equipment necessary to handle nearly any patient with serious trauma injuries or a critical illness. The crew can monitor patients' vital signs, use a portable lab analyzer and provide patients with blood and plasma. Additionally, the crew relies on external defibrillators, external pacemakers and other advanced-level equipment to aid patients with acute injury or illness.
Mayo Clinic is committed to providing patients with the best care anywhere, including at a height of 2,500 feet. Even in extreme conditions, the highly skilled Mayo One crew also contributes to scientific research.
For instance, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health will determine how a flight crew's ability to assess medical shock can impact patient care. A related project is looking at how a tissue oxygen monitor can help detect the first stages of hypovolemic shock, which is most often due to blood loss or dehydration.
Other on-board research has led to the use of night-vision goggles for safety when landing and the Autolaunch program, which lets 911 operators decide when a helicopter is needed at a scene so crews can arrive 10-15 minutes faster than if they waited for a call from police.