The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 21, 2013

First responders display tools of trade at exhibition

By Rebecca Croomes

— When North Alabama needs assistance, help comes in all forms.

Air Methods Corporation celebrated the start of National EMS Week Saturday with Vital Link Day, an exhibition of emergency medical aircraft, vehicles and personnel at Pryor Field.

Air Methods, the parent company of various air medical services in Alabama, took to the field displaying helicopters from MedFlight, Life Flight, Life Saver and Children’s of Birmingham. A fixed-wing medical airplane from Vanderbilt also made an appearance, along with the two helicopters operated by the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office.

The display was accompanied with booths and exhibitions by other first responder agencies in an effort to get personnel better associated with one another.

“It’s MedFlight’s way of saying thank you,” said Air Methods Regional Business Director David Bowman.

Bowman, a flight nurse for 11 years, said usually the only interaction emergency helicopter operators have with the paramedics who call them is limited to minutes at a time. Vital Link Day gave EMS officers and the public from across the county the chance to mingle with pilots and understand their operations better.

“It’s just an event that we wanted to bring back to the community,” Bowman said.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office was also on hand with its K-9 Unit to demonstrate attack techniques. A rescue squad from Huntsville also demonstrated how the perform rescues in forests, state parks and other heavily wooded areas.

While the event was geared toward first responders, the special guests were children of those emergency workers, who got to see a glimpse of what’s it like to actually play doctor and sit in the pilot’s seat of a MedFlight helicopter.

“They get to see the real-life version of it,” Bowman, a father of two, said. “It brings their play to life.”

Bowman said Air Methods plans to put on Vital Link again next year.