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Rescue helicopter is fully equipped to stabilize patients

By Eric Turcio, Reporter, eturcio@ktvm.com
Published On: Feb 04 2013 06:27:21 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 04 2013 10:24:31 PM MST
BOZEMAN, MONT. -

Summit Air Ambulance is the medical helicopter serving the Gallatin Valley. When search and rescue needs a spotter from above, they call Summit.

"We can transport rapidly the most critically injured patient and a patient who is medically unstable," said chief nurse Bill Norton.

Summit played an instrumental role this past weekend, guiding searchers on the ground to two skiers missing outside of Bridger Bowl.

"When a first responder requests us we ask for very specific criteria, and one of that is GPS points," said pilot Matthew Williams.

They are headed over remote Montana wilderness or into the higher elevations, where mountain terrain and weather can make for rough conditions.

"Weather can be a significant factor and is a factor this time of year. It's something we look at very closely," said Williams.

NBC Montana's Eric Turcio flew with the Summit crew over the area outside of Bridger Bowl, where the two skiers were missing on Saturday. Turcio reported he could feel the wind shaking the helicopter as they passed over the area.

Summit Ambulance officials said the helicopter can respond to a call in just seven minutes. They can take a patient to any local hospital. 

Norton showed NBC Montana the medical equipment they have on board the aircraft. "It's either the heart monitor defibrillator, we have a ventilator, and we have medications in this bag as well that can pretty much take care of anything we encounter," said Norton.

The helicopter carries at least four staff on board when responding to emergencies.