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Cathy Taylor
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Greg Hays Flying High as Helicopter Ambulance Nurse

In just 10 minutes, a crew from Olney can be in Carmi in response to a need for a helicopter ambulance.  Greg Hays, a local Carmi man has worked hard to get several acronyms behind his name, though when you ask him, he just says he’s a flight nurse.  Hays, along with members of his crew, made the quick trip down to Carmi Tuesday morning to show off his new ride and give local first responders an up close look at the Airbus H130 he treats patients in on their way to the hospital.  Hays has been working as a flight nurse for the last year plus and now has been a part of more than 100 critical care patient flights.  Along with Hays, personnel include Daniel Philpott, a flight paramedic with more than 5 years under his belt and pilot Brett Sullivan.  He sings the praises of the aircraft calling it fast, smooth and powerful and he’d know.  Sullivan has more than 30 years experience flying including the last 20 as a helicopter ambulance pilot.  The H130 flies at 120 knots, or about 150 miles per hour. 

Hays explains, “So this airframe is the EC130 and what sets it apart from other aircraft is the open concept patient compartment so the medical team can get to those critical illness and injuries.  Another thing that sets it apart is it’s 3 blade main rotor system.  That means it’s a little bit faster and a little bit more powerful so we can get where we’re going a little faster.  It’s got a third seat for EMS training and ride a longs so if we have a pediatric emergency, mom or dad can come along with us.  We have everything that a crucial care ICU and trauma center has in it at 2,000 feet in the air.”  One of the biggest differences some will notice about the helicopter is that there’s no room in the back for a patient.  That’s because in the 130, the patient is up front with the crew which has it’s advantages.  Hays says, “Having them up here with us is great for when patients have critical injuries lower than the head and chest.  We carry 2 units of O-negative blood on every flight.  Now that plays an important role in critically injured patients that may be bleeding out and/or medical patients that need it to save their life and with this open concept, we can get to all points on the patient in flight.”

The Air Life helicopters are affiliated with the Carle Foundation Level 1 Trauma Center and the operations 4 crews are headquartered in Olney.  From a patient perspective, Air Methods is unique from other local air medical transport providers in that no membership is required.  Instead of selling memberships, the crew says the company works directly with insurance eliminating the need.  You can learn more online at