Paramedic: Air ambulance performs better in cold weather

(Source: WNEM)

This cold has far-reaching impacts including its impact on emergency vehicles.

The cold can impact hospital helicopters in a way you might not expect.

"Colder weather the helicopter performs better," said Richard Bird, FlightCare paramedic for St. Mary's.

He knows emergencies can happen no matter what the weather. That's why he always stays prepared doing his part to make sure the air ambulance is ready to go at a moment's notice, even in the dangerous cold.

"Cold weather doesn't really change our operations at all. It changes some of our patient care strategies, but it doesn't change the way we do our job at all," Bird said.

Bird said cold air is heavier and more dense, which enhances lift capability for the helicopter.

That same cold air can do a number on his patients, most of which are fighting for their survival.

That's why Bird said he does everything he can to keep his patients warm in their time of need.

"We bundle them up really good. We have a sleeping bag we put them in. On top of that we have a thermal wrap. It's a Mylar wrap that keeps the body heat in. We have warm IV fluids that we can administer them and then we have a fluid warmer that we can actually create warm IV fluids with," Bird said.

However, Bird said the air ambulance can't fly if the mercury dips to -40 degrees.

"Because that's the point at which jet and diesel fuel gel. So -40 degrees we won't fly in anything close to that. But that's actual temp, that's not the wind chill," Bird said.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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