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WellFlight Helicopter serves county residents

When Terry Scholle was riding a young mare one day in 2002, he never expected to be airlifted to York Hospital from Mt. Joy. But after an accident with a loose saddle, Scholle fell onto the hard earth and broke seven bones. He doesn’t remember the helicopter ride but is thankful there was one.

Now, president of the Adams County Council of Governments (ACCOG), Scholle welcomed speaker Ron Brown of Air Methods Inc. to give a presentation concerning Wellspan’s WellFlight emergency medical helicopter at Thursday’s meeting.

We have transferred 1000 patients since we began providing services in 2020,” Brown said, outlining the equipment, staff, and safety enhancements that make it possible. WellFlight operates in Adams, Franklin, and York counties, with a three-person crew including a pilot, licensed flight nurse, and paramedic, ready to respond 24/7. Brown said the staff must meet stringent hiring standards and certify as flight medical staff. Pilots must have a minimum of 2500 command hours.

Brown estimated that seventy percent of the flights involve transferring patients between medical centers. The rest are rescue situations where helicopters must land in fields or on roads, often to provide emergency medical services and transportation to traffic accident victims. He added that transport time to emergency medical centers is often the difference between life and death in such emergencies, especially in rural areas where it takes time for an ambulance to arrive.  

Some advanced medical equipment aboard the EC135 includes a balloon pump cardiac device, a NICU isolette, and blood products. A glimpse inside the craft shows four seats and a space just big enough for a gurney and patient. Medical equipment Is stowed in every nook and cranny.

Brown said patient advocacy is important to the Air Methods company out of Colorado. The company is in-network with about 75 percent of health insurance providers, including Medicare Part B and Medicaid. The average cost is $168 in Pennsylvania. The helicopter and crew are housed at Adams County Emergency Services Center on Greenamyer Road.

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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