CLICK HERE for some fun facts about the Children's Hospital helicopter!
In a medical emergency, timing is critical.
That’s why early last year, Children’s Hospital became the first hospital in the state to have an on-site helicopter dedicated solely to pediatric transport. Since landing at Children’s in January of 2011, the helicopter has been available for transport 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bryan Svihla is one of four helicopter pilots on staff at Children’s Hospital, ready to take off within just minutes of getting word about a needed transport. Svihla has been flying helicopters for 26 years and knows just how important his role is in an emergency situation.
"While it is sad to know there are hurting children in the world, it is humbling to know we are helping them get to the best care in the state,” Svihla said. "The look on the parents and families eyes tells the whole story; they are entrusting us with their most precious person, and they feel assured we will do it safely.”
When Svihla is not in the air, he can be found in the pilot’s room of Children’s Hospital, just a few steps away from the hospital’s helipad. The room has a computer with special software for monitoring the weather, so when the call comes in for a transport, the pilots immediately know whether or not they can take off and just where they need to go to fly around the weather.
"We have instruments that receive signals from either GPS satellites or ground based equipment,” Svihla said. "These instruments guide us through times when we cannot see the ground because we are in clouds. They guide us to the airport and then guide us to the runway.”
Since the call for a transport could come at any time – day or night. – the pilots are equipped with another type of special equipment for seeing in the dark.
"We fly with Night Vision Goggles (NVG's) mounted to our flight helmets,” Svihla said. "The goggles amplify the smallest amount of light and allow us to see clearly at night. Its almost like daytime except everything is in green. The NVG's add a great deal of safety when we fly at night. We are able to see any obstacle that may be a hazard such as trees, poles with wires, or debris that may be around a helipad as we land.”
With a full tank, the Children’s Hospital helicopter can hold 197 gallons of jet fuel, with an additional 40 gallon tank of reserve fuel. This can take the chopper about 250 milles, using roughly 80 gallons of fuel an hour. That’s enough fuel to get to Shreveport, LA, one of several cities the chopper flies to for pediatric transport.
Wherever the call comes from, there’s a team at Children’s Hospital ready to take flight when the need arises. For some more "fun facts” on the Children’s Hospital helicopter, click here.
For more information on arranging a transport/transfer to Children’s Hospital, click here.