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Training for Trauma
LOMPOC, Calif. – A California Shock Trauma Air Rescue flight crew lands at the Lompoc Airport for training at the Lompoc Airport Thursday, April 11, 2013. Vandenberg Fire Department members trained with the CALStar flight crew to ensure patients can get to a trauma unit within the 60 minute window known as the golden hour. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)
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Training for Trauma

Posted 4/16/2013   Updated 4/17/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Lael Huss
30th Space Wing Public Affairs

4/16/2013 - LOMPOC, Calif. -  --  Imagine receiving a dispatch call describing a bicyclist having been struck by a vehicle on the highway outside of base. Unless the person receiving the call is a trained dispatcher, helicopter pilot, doctor, and can travel through time, coordination between several on and off-base helping agencies is necessary to the bicyclist's life.

The Vandenberg Fire Department shifts met April 11 and 13 for four joint-training sessions with the California Shock Trauma Air Rescue Flight Crew to learn about the operational, safety, and loading capabilities of the new CALSTAR Eurocopter EC135 at the Lompoc Airport.

"[The training] helps my firefighters get familiar with working with the CalStar helicopters, the safety items surrounding it, within it and how to put a patient into the helicopter" said Wayne Seda, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of operations for the Vandenberg Fire Department.

The training not only helped with the acquisition of knowledge for the aircraft but also about county protocols concerning trauma victims.

"Protocol for the county if you have a trauma victim [the response team(s)] are supposed to utilize the CalStar unit, " Seda said. "They can land pretty much anywhere; they come with two [qualified trauma] nurses and take the patient to a Level II trauma center."

Seda continues to explain by giving an example of an emergency situation that would warrant a CalStar response.

"Let's say that you have a vehicle verses a bicycle on the highway, just by that you'd know it'd be a trauma situation" said Seda. "Based on that information we'd call the air ambulance out [and] a ground ambulance."

Seda describes trauma as an impact to a person that will or has caused their condition to decrease rapidly.

"Because of the mechanism of injury it causes the patient a severe decrease in their vital signs, blood flow, spine; basically, any medical situation that is life threatening," Said Seda.

Since a trauma victim is in a severe life threatening situation the air ambulance can reach the Level II trauma center in a 20 minute time frame from South base a little more from North base locations," said Seda.

The teamwork and coordination between the Vandenberg Fire Department and CalStar potentially reduces transportation time in half and could mean life or death for a trauma victim.

"The thought behind the air ambulance is to get the critical patient to the trauma center within a 60 minute window [known as the] golden hour" Seda continued, "and those air ambulances are a critical asset to getting the patient to the Level II Trauma Center, time is of the essence."

The golden hour is the 60 minute time frame following the injury, which gives the critical trauma patient a higher probability of survival, increases 20 to 30 percent should they be transported to a trauma center rather than a regular hospital.

"We use the CALSTAR resource 4-5 times a year on average," said Mark Farias, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief. " The response distances and intervention times can be extremely challenging on an installation the size of Vandenberg. CALSTAR does much to close that critical gap."

CALSTAR is an important part of the life saving effort for the people on and off base for our rescue crew the training was very worthwhile because Vandenberg's overall acreage reaches nearly 100 thousand acres. 

"[This training] was really important for [Vandenberg Fire Department]," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Day, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron station 3 fire captain. "CALSTAR is a very important resource that Vandenberg Air Force Base Airmen have in case of a medical emergency. The partnership represents an amazing joint capability that could save lives."

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