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Waddington emergency responders learn about air transport service

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WADDINGTON – The town’s emergency responders saw first-hand Tuesday how an emergency helicopter could save their patients’ lives.

Waddington Fire Department and Rescue members gathered around a 100 ft. by 100 ft. space in the parking lot of the Donald M. Martin Civic Center to learn about the benefits of transporting trauma victims aerially.

LifeNet, a New York air medical transport service based local out of Damon Field in Potsdam, led the demonstration.

Clinical staff inside the helicopter allowed first responders to tour the back of the aircraft where they stored medicines and supplies, while pilots answered questions about fuel capacity and response times.

The pilots said they could reach Waddington within 10 minutes of receiving an emergency call.

“That could save lives,” first responder Tammy L. Rodgers said. “In emergency situations, time is of the essence.”

It takes an estimated three hours for Waddington’s ambulance to reach Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, but only one hour by helicopter, Waddington Fire Chief Matthew J. Mayette said.

But Jeff M. Doyle, LifeNet medical base supervisor at Potsdam, said that it’s not just a matter of time but also specialization of care.

“Trauma victims can receive care at a university and trauma care center,” Mr. Doyle said. “It’s estimated that aerial transportation can save a patient of up to 24 hours of time out of the intensive care unit.”

The cost to each individual patient varies, Mr. Doyle said.

“We do work with the insurance company,” he said. “We also offer a number of ways for patients to receive financial help, but, as in most cases, the bills are paid for by insurance companies with minimal copays.”

Mr. Mayette said the training will come in handy with the Bassmaster Elite Tournament coming to the area in August. Thousands of people—including anglers and spectators—are expected to inundate the area as a result of the national bass fishing tournament.

“Of course, we hope nothing happens, but we will be prepared if it does,” Ms. Rodgers said.

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