(MINOT, ND) – NorthStar Criticair, which serves Trinity Health and patients in rural parts of northern and western North Dakota with emergency helicopter service, will mark 25 years of service this Tuesday.
Established on May 16, 1992, NorthStar Criticair was created due to the large sprawl of northwestern North Dakota; having a helicopter service made it easier ñ and quicker ñ to transport patients from these areas, within 150 miles of Trinity Hospital in downtown Minot. What could be a two-hour trip, by land, can be reduced to a half hour, by air. The helicopter is used mostly for patients afflicted with stroke, STEMI, cardiac arrest, and trauma cases, said Mark Chilson, flight paramedic lead for NorthStar Criticair.
During its first year, the helicopter was used 93 times, with four calls being made in the first month and increasing to sixteen calls in one month the following year. Now, between the helicopter and a fixed wing plane ñ a new addition added in November 2015 ñ NorthStar receives 42 calls a month, Chilson said.
The fixed-wing plane allows patients with serious specific needs to be flown to treatment centers throughout the nation. ‘We can fly anywhere,’ Chilson said, noting that the plane can take a patient anywhere in the continental United States, as well as Canada, in order to fly patients to more specialized hospitals. For example, a burn victim can be flown to the burn center in St. Paul, Minnesota, or a patient can be flown to the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, in faster time than by ground transport.
Collaborating with Executive Air Taxi Corp., Trinity’s NorthStar Criticair provides air response and rescue care 24 hours a day every day, with a flight crew, paramedics and other specialists, responding within minutes to deliver definitive care for the patient. Whether on a transport intercept with a rural ambulance, an emergent response in remote locations, or a patient transfer from a rural facility, NorthStar Criticair represents Trinity Health’s commitment to offer its communities and residents the highest levels of healthcare quality and service.