Erlanger's Life Force preps for summer trauma season - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Erlanger's Life Force preps for summer trauma season

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It already feels like summer. But with the warm weather comes more trauma accidents. Erlanger has a fully-staffed trauma unit to help treat those patients, including aboard the LIFE FORCE helicopter. Channel 3 went behind the scenes Tuesday of Erlanger's LIFE FORCE hangar to see how the hospital is preparing for summer.

"With the warmer weather moving in we have a lot of increasing motorcycle accidents, four wheel accidents, with the bluffs and stuff, we have a lot of falls," said flight nurse Tim Perry.

Tim Perry is an Erlanger flight nurse of 19 years. When an accident requires a LIFE FORCE helicopter, there's a good chance he'll be on board.

"There's a lot of lake accidents, jet skis, boating accidents, it seems the gunshots and knife wounds go up that time of year," he said. "We've already seen this year people getting too close to the lawnmowers, children getting too close to the decks where people are mowing."

Perry said most summer accidents happen in rural areas but anyone is prone to trauma injuries. Last summer, he said they treated 728 adults for trauma and 53 kids or "pediatrics."

"Pediatric patients to me make better patients. What happened to them isn't their fault usually," he said.

A first responder on the ground usually decides if LIFE FORCE is required. If so, Petty and his team will take off, reaching speeds of 150 mph With four regional bases, LIFE FORCE can serve parts of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. The bases are in Chattanooga, Sparta, Tenn., Calhoun, Ga., and Blue Ridge, Ga.

The chopper serves as a flying ER with your basic trauma care, including anti-venom, cardiac drugs, and the all-important experienced personnel. A normal flight consists of a pilot, a flight nurse and a flight medic. But Perry said there's a huge team involved in any patient trauma care including dispatch, EMS, fire, and nurses and doctors in the hospital.

Trauma accounts for about half of all patient flights. Perry said they'll average almost 800 trauma flights per year.
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