Mercy Flight Takes New Approach With Critical Care Transport

Emergencies across northcentral Montana don’t stop just because weather has grounded the Mercy Flight helicopter.

That’s why donors to Benefis Foundation’s Greatest Need Fund helped purchase a critical care ground transport vehicle, which is taking to the road and will soon begin making a difference in the lives of patients across the region.

The transport vehicle is a box-style ambulance truck, a Ford F-350 with dual wheels for traction.

The vehicle is equipped for a high level of patient care and staffed like the Mercy Flight helicopter, though instead of a pilot, the transport service has a driver with EMT basic training and specialized driving skills. A registered nurse, a paramedic, and, if needed, a respiratory therapist or obstetrics team will staff the service.

benefis ed transport

The vehicle is not for emergency calls around Great Falls and will not respond to 9-1-1 calls. However, there are situations in which Benefis leaders know the transport service will prove vital for patients and rural communities.

When the Mercy Flight helicopter is grounded by bad weather, the heavy-duty nature of the new transport vehicle makes it an ideal alternative. Let’s say a hunter is shot in the leg in the Highwood Mountains. It’s blizzarding, and Mercy Flight can’t reach him. This heavy-duty vehicle could make all the difference in his survival.

Additionally, there are times in which Benefis needs to transport patients from the hospital to the Mercy Flight jet at the airport. If we had triplets who needed to get to Seattle Children’s Hospital for specialized treatment, the critical care transport would take them to the airport. Meanwhile, we wouldn’t be taking a city ambulance out of service for the transport.

This vehicle can also help us transport patients throughout the region we serve. Some rural communities surrounding Great Falls only have one ambulance and utilize volunteer EMTs. If they are taking people to and from Great Falls, they aren’t ready to respond to local emergencies. This new transport vehicle will provide us with a safe way to get regional patients back to their local communities quickly.

benefis ed transport

Another use for the new ground transport service will be taking admitted patients to West Campus. Historically, Benefis has had to use a city ambulance to move patients from one part of the health system to another.

 “With the strategic and forward thinking of our leaders and Benefis Foundation, we are excited to begin using this new resource to deliver high quality critical care transport services to our regional communities,” said Kevin Langkiet, director of Emergency Services.

With the new critical care transport, Benefis can get to those in need during moments of crisis no matter the weather.