Free ride good health care for peninsula


Posted: Friday, November 04, 2005

Help is on the way.

The idea of having a helicopter at Central Peninsula General Hospital isn’t just a good idea, it’s a great idea.

With the long stretches of road that wind through the Kenai Peninsula, there are plenty of accidents that occur throughout the year — mostly in winter, thanks to black ice. Knowing that help is just that much closer is reassuring to those who will use and depend on it for their lives.

The proposition that a jet helicopter be stationed at the hospital 24/7 is, shall we say, just what the doctors ordered — especially when it comes at no cost to the hospital.

The plan is the brainchild of CPGH Chief Executive Officer Dave Gilbreath and Providence Alaska Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Al Parrish, Gilbreath said. Since about 100 people are transported to Anchorage each year from CPGH, the two have been working on a plan to save even more lives.

The plan is to lessen the effects of trauma during the golden hour — that which occurs right after an injury.

What is done to help a patient during those first crucial moments makes all the difference in that person’s recovery.

Having the capacity to bring that patient closer to those who can do the most good is a must.

“That golden hour is critical,” says Gilbreath.

This plan helps those who need treatment get the trauma care necessary to make a successful recovery, or at least be stabilized much quicker so they can be transported to a facility that’s better able to treat them.

LifeGuard Alaska, the air ambulance medivac service based in Anchorage, is the one making the proposal, and it didn’t take much to convince CPGH emergency room doctors that the idea is worth pursuing.

In addition, the proposal was discussed with EMTs from Soldotna and Kenai.

LifeGuard Alaska crew members are trained in basic life support, advanced cardiac support, pediatric advanced life support, neonatal resuscitation, trauma nursing and advanced burn life support, as well as emergency medical technology (EMT). Every one of these life-threatening situations can occur, no matter where you live. Having the ability to get you help faster is everyone’s goal in this scenario.

Another bonus could be the hiring of local medical technicians and pilots to staff the helicopter. If they need to be on call 24/7, it only makes sense they should live here for availability.

While this all sounds ideal on paper, there still are many details to be worked out. It still is in the planning stage, however, the initial reaction from those who are closest to it is a positive one.

The plan calls for the helicopter to possibly be in service as soon as early next year. That’s good timing, since it marks the harshest point of winter on the peninsula.

The idea of providing a higher level of care cannot be disputed, it can only be welcomed. We applaud those who have a hand in the concept, the support and the ability to bring the proposal to life.

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