Saving Lives: Mayo Clinic transportation unit |

Saving Lives: Mayo Clinic transportation unit

Brian Wise
Updated: February 11, 2020 10:29 PM
Created: February 11, 2020 08:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Every crash or medical emergency is different and so is the response that is taken. Whether on the ground or in the air, Mayo Clinic has a variety of fleets waiting to help, but what goes into making that call?

"A lot of times the vehicle that we are taking matches the weather, so if we're in a ground ambulance it's likely we weren't able to fly in the helicopter somewhere," said Tricia Riggott a Flight Paramedic with Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service.

However, the care doesn't just stop with the helicopter. Mayo provides a high level of patient care in all vehicles and it doesn't matter where.

"We're the first ones on the scene when you're having the worst day of your life," said David Yohn an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Paramedics with Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service. "Our average is about 8-to-10 but that's 10 trucks running 10 calls a day on a very busy day." 

The EMT Paramedics get dispatched right away with fire and police and when they are on scene they assess the situation. Their situations include everything from basic life support to surgical airways. For those out in the field every detail matters. 

"The airplane and helicopters really provide one thing to Mayo Clinic and that is to bring patients to the clinic to bring them into a higher level of care," said Joel Kozlowski Director of Operations for Mayo Clinic. 

Kozlowski has been working as a Mayo Clinic employee since 2013 and said that when a call comes into the emergency communications center they look at the situation from a top-down approach to pick the best aircraft based on the scenario.

"Really depends on where the ground ambulance is located. In general, it takes about seven minutes or so to dispatch the helicopter from St. Marys and from there it's a direct line of flight," Kozlowski said.

Mayo has three other bases, one on top of St Marys in downtown Rochester, one in Mankato and one in Eau Clare, Wisconsin. Mayo has four helicopters and one plane which is a King Air 350; all this makes up the Mayo Clinic Aviation Program.

"There's really a lot of scenarios where we can be called. We perform inter-facility transfers with both the airplane, the helicopter and also the ground ambulance network," Kozlowski said. "We also bring patients to the clinic if they have been involved in serious accidents in farm fields in highways things like that we commonly refer to those as scenes."

With the capability of reaching so many communities, they are also able to provide specialty teams like neo-natal care, pediatrics, and bring trauma patients and organs for organ transplants to Mayo Clinic.

The helicopter will stay within 100 miles but will be sent further if needed. The airplane will go about 1200 miles but will stay within 600-to-700 miles from St. Marys.

"Configurations the same we'll have a nurse and a paramedic and one pilot on a helicopter the only difference with the airplane is we'll have two pilots a nurse and a paramedic at times we will have specialty teams on board," Kozlowski said.

Even though there are some limits with distance and space based on the vehicle, that doesn't stop Mayo from providing patients the care that they deserve in surrounding communities. 

"Even though it is a different facet of medical transportation they still work hand in hand with the ground crews. They do their best to try to meet the needs of the patient," said Sergio Cantero-Rangel an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Paramedics with Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service.

Whether it is the lights rolling through downtown Rochester or Mayo One landing in Albert Lea; the individuals in the Mayo Clinic Transportation Network work together to help save lives.

"No matter what situation you are in in this area the mayo clinic is coming to you," Riggott said.

Mayo Clinic said employees who are enrolled in the Mayo medical plan and need medical care while traveling are eligible to be transported from anywhere in the world back to the closest Mayo Clinic facility for care. Mayo contracts with AirMed for this service.

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