Clinton, Utah — On Tuesday morning, the Clinton Fire Department and AirLife Utah met up for the final day of training so that their crews could get to know one another.
“It’s very important for us to come out and train with these fire departments,” said James Vanotti, a flight nurse with AirLife Utah, “because the more that we train, the closer we get to building relationships with each other, the smoother the patient handoffs will be, the better care that the patients will get.”
To prepare firefighters for scenarios in which a patient’s life is at risk, the normally peaceful field next to the Clinton Fire Department was converted into a temporary helipad throughout the course of the week.
“For us to talk with the crews and get to know them, to make sure that patient care goes a lot smoother,” Clinton Fire Captain Holly Smith said.
Safety was given top attention during the training.
“Safety is probably one of the biggest topics that we need to hit on and rehash all the time, because the minute someone gets complacent, the minute the incident does happen,” Vanotti said.
Vanotti, a flight nurse, has firsthand experience with how their helicopter may save lives.
“We land on a scene and we augment the ground crew,” he said. “What we offer is an extra level of care and expedited transport to definitive care.”
But the secret is knowing what to do when they arrive; this is where the Clinton Fire Department comes in.
“Just knowing a little bit more about the aircraft — like, the pilots have been beneficial, like where to, go where not to go,” she said. “So that they can keep eyes on us so we don’t get into the danger zone.”
The number of calls that they respond to is increasing as Utah’s population grows.
But AirLife members said it’s comforting to know that ground staff have their backs whenever they fly.
“I like doing what I do because it connects me with my community,” Vanotti said. “It gives me a sense of ownership.”