Hospital chopper’s impact felt

by Eric Norwood Jr.

PNT staff writer

enorwood@pntonline.com

The CareFlight helicopter is nearing its one-year anniversary in Portales, and the impact is already being felt.

According to CareFlight Vice President of Business Development Scott Stamper, CareFlight averages 20 transfers per month from Portales.

“We’ve had a really productive year,” said Stamper.

The CareFlight crew cleans out its helicopter Thursday at the Roosevelt General Hospital base.

The CareFlight crew cleans out its helicopter Thursday at the Roosevelt General Hospital base.

Some 85 percent of transfers by the CareFlight helicopter go to Lubbock, with the rest almost always going to either Roswell or Albuquerque. To keep operating in Portales, an average of 17-20 transfers per month are required.

“We’re aiming for one (transport) a day,” said Stamper.

The CareFlight helicopter is a 31-foot long, Italian-made emergency management machine worth $3.5 million. Stamper says it is designed by Agusta, an Italian company known for designing helicopters during World War II.

Flights to Lubbock and back usually take about two hours, including refuel time and preparing the patient. Each transport costs the company $15,000-$25,000 depending on the type of medication the patient needs.

Each flight features a three person crew consisting of one pilot, one critical paramedic, and one critical paranurse. The pilot must have completed 2,000 flight hours in a helicopter to even be considered for a position. About half of the pilots have military backgrounds, according to Stamper.

Hailey Radloff, 27, is employed as the base manager for CareFlight in Portales, and is a certified critical paranurse as well. Radloff is also a Portales native, and is pleased to see the service make it to Portales.

“It’s a very rewarding job and it is needed in the community,” said Radloff.

Radloff is in charge of running the CareFlight office, and flies as part of the three-man flight crew as well. Radloff says keeping calm in intense situations isn’t too difficult.

“You talk over the situations with your partner, keep calm, and trust in the Lord because the Lord guides your hand,” said Radloff.

 

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