HealthNet Trains Flight Nurses for Emergency Transports

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - Three West Virginia hospitals own the helicopter patient transport service across the state. CAMC, WVU Medicine and Cabell-Huntington all own a third of HealthNet Aeromedical Services.

HealthNet now has 10 hubs across West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. But what does it take to get flight nurses and paramedics ready for these lifesaving calls?

13 News sat in on a day of training with the latest class of flight nurses.

When every second counts and your life is in danger, you want the best-trained paramedics and nurses getting you to the hospital fast. But it takes a lot of training and education. That's why HealthNet puts their flight crews through a 10-week intensive course in Charleston. 

"If you were in an accident on I-79, you don't have that ability to say 'well just send me your best'. We want all our folks to be the best," Healthnet Education Director Nick Cooper told 13 News.

For Cooper it's personal, his mom was a paramedic both on the ground and in the air. Then last year his dad suffered a heart attack and relied on HealthNet to get him out of rural West Virginia.

"He was in Wyoming County. It was within 45 minutes he's at CAMC and on a cath-lab table. It saved his life. Had he had to go stay there in Wyoming County and went by ambulance- he would have never made it through," Cooper explained.

The next class of flight nurses have been training for a few weeks. They're working in the classroom, with hands-on demonstrations and shadowing a real patient transport. 

"It's exhilarating, it's a very daunting feeling. There's just a lot of responsibility that comes with being not only a medical professional but part of the flight crew as well," Andrew Grogg told 13 News. Grogg is a flight nurse-in-training, but like his other trainees he's already been a nurse for years. 

The training doesn't stop after the initial course, each year flight crews brush up on the latest techniques and skills. 

If you're interested in becoming a flight nurse or paramedic- click here.

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