Children from Kindercare gathered on the front steps of Graham Street Church of Christ Friday waiting impatiently for a whooshing sound to alert them that the huge Air Evac Lifeteam helicoptor was about to set down on the hospital's landing pad.
All eyes were on the sky and hands waved and fingers began pointing as it came into sight.
Becky Reed, director of Kindercare, scheduled this event with the emergency air service from Brownwood.
Some of the children were leary of the big aircraft, but others were bold enough to sit inside while Rick Novotny, R.N. flight nurse, and John Whitt, paramedic, explained some of the equpment used to help people during flights to hospitals.
Base line pilot Adam Paterson was a naval aviator and has had his commercial pilot's license since 1988. He said patient transports are made to Abilene, Fort Worth, Dallas, San Angelo, and Stephenville. If Mineral Wells air evac is busy, the Brownwood team fills in. Paterson said it takes less than a half hour of air time from Stephenville to Brownwood.
Before all the children had their turn in the cockpit, an official from Harris Methodist came across the street to alert the crowd that a real emergency was taking place, with only eight minutes until the CareFlight helicopter would touch down.
Two police cars pulled up and began to direct traffic. In the meantime, Reed's group was being gathered to be taken back across Graham to safety. Then, they sat on the steps and watched another front page story of the day occur.
The second helicopter made its approach from the north. There were no frills or thrills as the medical staff left the craft to make preparations to cross over to the hospital to pick up a patient for transport to All Saints' Hospital in Fort Worth.
Larry White, pilot since 1979, said his team had arrived from Granbury. White's crew included R.N.Donny Beeson and paramedic Robert Eaves.
White said Granbury's CareFlight serves a 75-100 mile radius which includes Eastland, Abilene, Temple, Fort Worth and the Dallas area. Within three to four minutes after an alert, the aircraft is in the air.
He said this was one of the fastest EMS aircraft and can accommodate extra passengers. Flight time from Granbury was about 11 minutes.
Granbury has four pilots, five nurses, and six paramedics that work in 12-hour shifts, seven days on and seven off.
Regarding the staffs and pilots for the emergency air flight programs, White said, “They are dedicated in what they do.”
SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or -254-965-3124, ext 229.