HealthNet Aeromedical Services of West Virginia and MedFlight of Ohio joined together yet again to give back to those who risk their lives to save the lives of others by offering an all day free conference to fire and emergency medical services (EMS).
“This is our ninth year having this conference,” MedFlight representative Amanda Ball explained.
She explained that 10 years ago, HealthNet and MedFlight joined forces to form the first co-owned base in Portsmouth.
The MedFlight helicopter, which identifies as MedFlight 7 in Ohio and Healthnet 4 in West Virginia, even shows the joint venture.
“It’s literally painted in half,” commented MedFlight Regional Director Matt Hynus. “It’s the only one of its kind where two non-profits that used to compete came together to say, ‘Why do we keep beating our heads against one another down here. Let’s join.’”
The base uses assets from both companies, has two business developments, two risk managements and education from two companies.
“We were both down here. We were both doing the same thing. It was the right thing to do to take care of people,” Hynus stated.
Ball explained that both companies saw a need for critical transportation services and decided to fill that need together. The conference was created the following year as a thank you to first responders.
“We had a lot of support when we came into the area 10 years ago, so we wanted to give back,” she said.
EMS and fire personnel are always in need of continuing education. Ball explained that at the time, there was not many opportunities for such training and education.
“So we decided to offer one,” she said with excitement.
Since that time, the two companies have partnered with Shawnee State University to offer a wide arrange of training that appeals to fire, basic emergency medical technicians (EMT), advanced EMTs, paramedics and even nurses.
“It’s kind of a mix of different people and expertise levels,” Ball commented.
The first year, the conference had 50 participants. This year, 130 people showed up.
“It’s grown and grown every year,” Ball assured.
Over the years, the training has been offered in the parking lot of SSU, on the floodwall and even in the river.
“We try to keep it different every year,” Ball stated.
This year’s fire training included search and rescue, diminished capacity, confined space and gear check and maintenance. Full-time paid and volunteer fire fighters trained in a dark smokey maze built for the conference by Portsmouth Fire Department.
The medical training included lectures and hands on/practical skills training. Lt. Anthony Torres with Mifflin Township Fire was the keynote speaker. Torres was in a motorcycle accident that damaged his foot. He was given the option to either have his foot repaired or have it amputated below the knee. If he had his foot repaired, he would not likely be able to walk, run or firefight ever again. However, amputation would allow him to return to a fairly normal life. Torres chose amputation and is now the first full-time amputee fire fighter in Ohio. He explained to the group that when he returned to firefighting, his co-workers and questions and concerns, but he informed them that he would not have returned to the job if he was not able to do it. In addition to fighting fires full-time, Torres has also started non-profits including a cross-fit team for adapted athletes (those with disabilities including those with use of prosthetics and wheelchairs).
Following lectures, the medical training continued by playing with a $30,000 doll. The doll was actually a pediatric simulator.
“The simulator actually reacts like a human being and talks and coughs and cries,” Ball said.
A great learning tool, the simulator is controlled through Bluetooth by a tablet and can simulate a various emergency health situations. Its pupils dilate, tongue swells, chest rises and falls, has a blood pressure that can be checked with a blood pressure cuff, has a heart rate, can be defibulated and can even have a seizure.
The MedFlight/HealthNet helicopter was even on site for tours offered by the flight crew.
“It’s a fun day. It’s a long day,” Ball laughed.
The conference lasted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is the base’s only big conference of the year.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930