Temple Fletcher, August 01, 2021 - “Battle Born” became Nevada’s state slogan when it became the 36th state during the Civil War in 1864.
Battle born also described Care Flight’s start in 1981 when it became the 35th helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) in the country, and the first in the western U.S. Flight nursing and air medical service were still in its infancy, and Care Flight was considered a true “Pioneer of The West” for bringing critical care to the vast open areas of Nevada and northern California.
Jane Miller started her flight nursing career in 1975 at Saint Anthony’s Flight For Life in Denver. In 1981 she brought her progressive vision, drive for expanding education and critical care air medical service to Reno, Nevada.
Maggie Tole, fellow Flight for Life nurse assisted Jane in establishing Care Flight as the first-ever joint air ambulance venture formed between two hospitals. By 1985, Care Flight became the busiest single HEMS in the U.S., and by 1989, the first self-supporting, financially independent HEMS in the nation. Care Flight continues to receive no subsidies from the hospitals, government or other entities.
The Alouette III, which was designed for the French Alps with high altitude capability and a small footprint, was a good match for this region’s needs. Care Flight flew the last-remaining U.S. air medical Alouette until its retirement. Care Flight then purchased the first MD 900 Explorer for EMS and designed the EMS interior that is still in use today.
As the demand for critical care transport grew, Care Flight has grown and now operates four rotor wing (RW) bases strategically placed to best serve Nevada and north eastern California.
All four RW aircraft are AS 350 B3 A Stars, chosen for their ability to perform in the altitude, wind and temperature extremes experienced in this area.
Their Pilatus PC-12 fixed wing affords them the range, speed and safety they demand. Care Flight also cooperatively serves the metro Reno area along with the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority (REMSA) with a ground critical care transport. The also provide a rural California ALS ambulance in Quincy, CA.
This once single-aircraft flight program, staffed by a single nurse and pilot, has flourished into a thriving multi-aircraft, multi-staffed, air and ground transport program. In addition to its primary mission, Care Flight has served the region as a valuable educational resource. Local and state organizations have consistently turned to Care Flight for input on regulations, protocols and guidelines.
Although Jane and Maggie have retired from Care Flight, the ethics and standards that they instilled in the program and the staff continues. Per customer, requestor and patient surveys, Care Flight’s positive and helpful attitudes along with the competent compassionate care they provide makes Care Flight stand out.
Airbus H125 air ambulance
Care Flight first helicopter was an Alouette III, operated between 1981 and 1997