Sentara's Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance Marks 25 Years
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Sentara's Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance Marks 25 Years 

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Norfolk, VA - February 7, 2007 -“If it weren’t for Nightingale, I’d be dead,” says Henry Johnson of Franklin. He suffered a full cardiac arrest at Southampton Memorial Hospital after waking up with chest pain. At the height of morning rush hour, Nightingale flew Johnson to the Sentara Heart Hospital® in Norfolk in a matter of minutes for emergency intervention that opened a badly clogged artery and restored blood flow to his heart.

Newport News Police Officer Sammy Wylie almost lost his left foot when a fleeing suspect rammed his police cruiser head-on at 80 miles per hour.

“I could see my foot facing the wrong way and I thought it was amputated,” Wylie recalls thinking as firefighters cut him free. A six-minute flight to the Level I Trauma Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital gave surgeons time to restore his mangled foot, and after extensive rehabilitation, Wylie is back to full duty.

“I’m totally in their debt,” says Ron Ackerman of Chesapeake, who fell two stories off a ladder after Hurricane Isabel and landed on his head, suffering severe head trauma.

“If I had not flown that day,” Ackerman says, “we wouldn’t be talking.”

These are just a few of the many survival stories Nightingale patients are able to share. From its base at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, the Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance has reached out to more than14,000 patients since its inception in February, 1982.

Nightingale a regional asset for Virginia, North Carolina
Nightingale serves a 125-mile radius from its base at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, including 742 EMS and hospital flights during 2006. At the height of rush hour traffic, with the tunnels backed up, Nightingale can mean the difference between a slow crawl for a ground ambulance or a life-saving flight of just minutes. For outlying and rural communities, it provides critically ill and injured patients a vital time advantage.

Nightingale flies mix of trauma, medical patients
Nightingale is not just for trauma patients. In fact, about 55% of Nightingale flights involve such cases as critically ill cardiac patients flown from community hospitals to the highly specialized Sentara Heart Hospital® in Norfolk. Nightingale is equipped with high-tech cardiac and pulmonary equipment including an intra-aortic balloon pump and a sophisticated 12-lead EKG monitor, helping the flight nurse and paramedic provide state-of-the-art care in flight.

Other non-trauma cases involve aneurysms and high-risk, fragile infants in need of critical care at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, which loads a 300-pound incubator designed for the cramped space in Nightingale for such life-saving flights. In a handful of cases, Nightingale has also assisted with searches for missing people.

“Nightingale is a great tool,” says Chris Cannon, RN, manager of Nightingale and a flight nurse himself, “but it’s also a great asset to our community and we at Sentara are proud to provide this service that helps us save lives.”


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