Another medical helicopter has been commissioned from eastern Idaho in order to respond to medical emergencies in Yellowstone National Park.
The helicopter, a Bell 407 GX, is stationed at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. It is the second medical helicopter at the facility dedicated to servicing Yellowstone. The Bell 407 model has been in commission for the Medical Center since January 2012.
With a range of 500 miles and staffed with a pilot, nurses and paramedics, the medical helicopter has wide range to assist ailing Yellowstone workers and visitors. Its schedule runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., from now to the end of September, once the Park becomes less congested. This range also includes Grand Tetons National Park.
The medical helicopter is operated by Air Idaho Rescue, which has been the Medical Center’s transport service since 1990. They have serviced Yellowstone National Park since June 2003.
Among the emergencies the new medical helicopter is most likely to assist with is heart problems among visitors. Other injuries in the Park warranting emergency transport include car accidents and the occasional wildlife encounter, as well as hiking or mountaineering accidents.
The advantages of a medical helicopter servicing Yellowstone are multifold. An ambulance has to contend both with the narrowness and shifting grade of the Grand Loop Road, which complicates an ambulance’s expediency in getting patients to the hospital. It can take upwards of two hours for an ambulance to reach Idaho Falls from Yellowstone National Park. The medical helicopter can make the trip in around 40 minutes.
In addition, the medical helicopter can service Yellowstone’s backcountry, in the event of a medical emergency occurring off road and out of reach of ground medical services.
Although the medical helicopter operates out of the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, patients may request transportation to another facility, depending on their condition.