CHI St. Joseph’s secures new medical helicopter

It didn’t take long for CHI St. Joseph’s Health to find a replacement for its medical helicopter service.

Grand Forks-based Valley Med Flight agreed Tuesday to base a medical helicopter at the helipad of the new St. Joseph’s hospital under construction in Dickinson. Valley Med Flight will also provide fixed-wing aircraft support to southwest North Dakota from its existing bases.

“Our No. 1 concern is access for our patients,” said Reed Reyman, president of CHI St. Joseph’s Health. “We just know that a helicopter needs be based here and we know we have to have access to fixed wing, so we did all we could to get this in place.”

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liFeeling safer with medical helicopter around

During my flight, I got to see sights like this, such as the under-construction Sanford Health Clinic, front, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, back.

Toward the end of August and into early September, I will take a few days off and spend what I can only presume will be some long days at my family’s farm helping my dad and brother harvest what we hope is an above-average spring wheat and durum crop.

As safe as farmers try to be at any time of year, harvest can get hectic and mishaps have been known to happen.

I remember one year where an accidental touch of a combine’s throttle nearly caused the machine to run over my brother, who was working underneath it. Yes, safety says we should have turned the combine off before working on it. As most farmers will attest, that is a safety rule that typically doesn’t get followed — especially when the crop is ready in the field and storm clouds loom on the horizon somewhere in Montana.

If an accident were to happen on the farm this harvest, I am confident the affected person will be just fine. That’s because I now know just how fast medical help can reach us.

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Spirit Lifeline helicopter takes off

Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson speaks with residents during the Spirit Lifeline helicopter dedication.

It is becoming easier for emergency personnel to reach western North Dakota residents in need of medical help — even those who may think they’re out of reach.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday at the Biesiot Activities Center for the Spirit Lifeline air medical helicopter, the first of its kind in Dickinson.

Spirit Lifeline is based on the grounds of the new St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center, which is under construction in west Dickinson. Though the hospital won’t be fully operation until the fall of 2014, the helicopter and its crew are already going strong.

They have been operating since June 1 and have made 18 flights for medical transport, pilot Robert Fratti said.

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