Arkansas Children's Hospital has a pair of angels with rotors
Angel One flies 2 Sikorksy S76C+ helos for ACH with 2 new D-models on order.
Dir of Aviation Ops Collin Bailey flew Black Hawks and Cobras for 20 years in the National Guard before joining Angel One in 2007.
"I look at the budget, financial performance and clinical performance of the department," Haemmerle explains, "and we combine that with Collin's work on the aviation side, because we're not just aviation and not just medical—we're a good marriage of both, providing a vital service of transporting sick children across the state to Arkansas Children's Hospital."
Reporting to Haemmerle are Chief Flight Nurse Paige Keen and a team of 14 nurses, Respiratory Therapist Coordinator Ray Smith with 14 therapists, EMT Coordinator Paul Yarberry with 14 EMTs and Lead Dispatch Coordinator Teresa Campbell with responsibility for 15 communications specialists.
Angel One's EMTs do not perform what Haemmerle terms "the typical 911 role." Instead, he says, "We pay them to be the pilots of the ambulance. They make sure the ambulance is mission-ready at the start of the day, then operate the ambulance like the pilots operate the aircraft.
They make sure the risk assessment is within our operational margins, and then accept the mission knowing they need to go and get the patient and bring him or her back in a safe, efficient and timely manner."
According to Haemmerle, "The dispatchers are the brains behind the operation. They receive the call, make the connection to our receiving doctors here in the hospital, flight follow the aircraft and ground follow the ambulances, and make sure if we take a fixed-wing aircraft someplace that there is an ambulance waiting to pick us up."
Flight nurses and respiratory therapists are the primary care providers aboard the aircraft or ambulance. The nurse takes the team-lead role and has overall responsibility for the patient's care while the therapist deals with respiratory problems typical in newborns and pediatric patients, providing critical ventilator management and acute care.
Angel One flightcrew members and ops procedures
This Sikorsky S76C+ was financed by donations to ACH from Walmart/Sam's Club, Log a Load for Kids and Will Golf for Kids. It has accumulated more than 10,000 hrs flying medical missions for ACH.
A standard flightcrew for Angel One includes a pilot, a flight nurse and a respiratory therapist. Typical missions for the department average about 100 nm, with 5 to 6 transports coming in on a typical day. Flight ops are normally conducted at between 5000 and 6000 ft in IFR operations and 4500 to 5500 ft in VFR. At those altitudes the S76s have no trouble reaching their Vne of 155 kts in level flight and have to be throttled back.
Angel One employs 8 line pilots plus a director of operations and a chief pilot who also serves to provide relief pilots as required. Because of vacations, illnesses and any other situation where an extra pilot is necessary, planning for relief pilots must be done. Line pilots flying a typical helicopter schedule work 12 hr shifts with 7 days on and 7 days off.
Pilots will work a day shift for a week and then work nights on their next assigned week.
Angel One is a 24/7/365 operation, and 2 pilots are on duty at all times. Each duty shift is staggered, with one pilot working from 5:30 am to 5:30 pm and the other from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm. Maximum duty day is 14 hrs, assuring that the pilots can have at least 10 hrs of rest before returning to work.
Operations are normally flown single pilot, including IFR, which requires an operating 3-axis autopilot. Unlike many other air medical operations that only fly VFR, Angel One routinely dispatches into IFR conditions.
Most operations involve patient transfers, usually from a helipad at a hospital or an airport location. IFR operations generally are flown into airports where there are published approaches, although there is a private GPS approach to the hospital's helipad.
Angel One does not do "scene work"— off airport landings to transport victims of car crashes and such. So trip schedules are generally predictable and pilots seldom come close to meeting the 14 hr duty day restriction.
Key pilots at Angel One
Line Pilots Bob Hathaway (L) and Darrell Long. Hathaway began his career as a helicopter mechanic in the Army before becoming a pilot. Long learned to fly helicopters in the Army. Both began flying for ACH when PHI managed the program and stayed on when the hospital began running the program in 2003.
Collin Bailey is director of operations for Angel One. His father and both of his grandfathers had military and civil aviation backgrounds so knowledge of airplanes and flying were part of his early family life for as long as he can remember. He joined the Army National Guard while still in high school in 1987 at the age of 17. And 2 years later he went through helicopter flight training at the US Army Flight School at Ft Rucker.
Graduating from Thomas Edison College in Trenton NJ in 1993, he spent the next 3 years flying Bell OH58 Kiowas as a reconnaissance and interdiction pilot in a counter drug program. For a time he returned to school in a pre-med program, first at Arkansas State University and later at the University of Central Arkansas.
Chief Flight Nurse Paige Keen makes sure Angel One's medical crews are up-to-date on certifications and training.
Becoming a Federal Technician (a civilian position to train personnel in the National Guard), Bailey became an instructor pilot on Bell AH1 Huey Cobras and Bell UH1 Hueys. In 1999 he attended Army fixed-wing flight school at Dothan AL and qualified in Beech King Air C12s.
Continuing to advance in the National Guard, he became the standardization officer for the State of Arkansas in 2005. In 2006 he was deployed to Iraq flying Sikorsky UH60 Black Hawks. Returning to the States in 2007, a friend told Bailey about an opening at ACH. He applied and was hired as a line pilot in October 2007. In March 2012 he was promoted to director of flight operations.
Todd Adams is chief pilot. A recent addition to the department, Adams joined Angel One last October from the Arkansas Army National Guard where he served as a fulltime standardization instructor pilot. Adams' background includes both rotorcraft and medical roots. He learned to fly helicopters in the National Guard while he was also attending Southern Arkansas University where he graduated with a BS degree in biological science as part of a pre-med program. He also became an EMT while in college.
In 2004 Adams was deployed to Bosnia as an air-medevac commander. He was part of a team of 4 UH60 Black Hawks and 50 personnel on a mission that involved medical rescue hoists from minefields and pursuing war criminals. By the time he returned to the States in 2005 he had decided to pursue flying helicopters full-time. He began flying a Bell JetRanger 206 for Don Ruggles' Helicopters Southwest in Texarkana AR.