4-year designation meets the "Gold Standard" for air ambulance services
Norfolk, Virginia – November 12, 2008 – Sentara’s Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance has achieved a four-year accreditation from CAMTS, the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems. CAMTS sets a voluntary standard for air ambulance services committed to the highest levels of aviation and patient safety and other stringent criteria.
“We’ve actually met CAMTS standards for years,” says Chris Cannon, RN, Nightingale manager and a flight nurse. “We’ve just never gone through the rigors of applying for accreditation until now.”
Seven air transport programs were up for review in 2008. Nightingale was among four to achieve CAMTS accreditation after a rigorous site visit and a review of submitted information about the program.
“We’re pleased to be able to tell our patients that Nightingale meets the highest safety standards in the business,” Cannon adds. “We’re proud to be able to post the CAMTS logo on the side of the ship.”
Nightingale is in its 26th year of accident- and incident-free operation, serving a 125-mile radius from its base at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, southeastern Virginia’s only Level I Trauma Center and a highly-sophisticated tertiary care facility.
Since its first flight in 1982, Nightingale has transported more than
16,000 patients, ranging from scene flights to auto and industrial accidents to time-critical inter-hospital transports of critically ill patients suffering from heart attacks, aneurysms and strokes to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Nightingale also partners with Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters to transport tiny preemies and critically-ill infants in an incubator designed for the tight space inside the helicopter.
“We are a flying ICU,” Cannon adds. “Sentara is committed to providing the service as a community benefit to the region as part of its not-for-profit mission.”
Short rides, years of gratitude for many Nightingale patients
The average length of a Nightingale flight is about 20 minutes. But that brief time is often critical to a patient’s survival, especially at peak traffic times when Hampton Roads area tunnels and highways are backed up and ground ambulances would be slowed to a crawl. Emergency Medical experts call it ‘The Golden Hour,’ and few people appreciate Nightingale’s abilities more than Patricia Jackson of Virginia Beach.
In September of 2007, Patricia, then 60, and her husband Don were leaving a barbeque with friends in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, when Pat suffered an aneurysm in her brain.
Local EMS personnel transported her to Albemarle Hospital, where staff called Nightingale to fly Pat to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and emergency neurosurgery. Pat survived the ordeal with surprisingly few deficits except some short term memory loss, which is improving.
On the one-year anniversary of her life-saving flight, Pat attended a community open house on the Sentara Princess Anne Health campus in Virginia Beach in order to present the Nightingale crew on duty that day with a plaque she had made in gratitude for the flight that helped save her life. In part, the plaque read, “Thank for giving me back my future.” She also took cookies to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to thank the physicians, nurses and therapists who helped her pull through.
“I feel blessed to be alive,” Pat says, “and Nightingale helped me make it.”
For more information, visit the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems web site.