Guardian Flight ends emergency helicopter medical services to North Dakota city

From the Associated Press

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Guardian Flight has stopped its emergency helicopter services in Williston, and first responders in North Dakota’s sixth largest city say they’re noticing longer wait times for people with time-sensitive injuries who need quick care.

The company’s helicopter had been primarily used to pick up patients up at the scene of emergencies on locations ranging from farms to oil fields, the city fire department’s assistant chief, Corey Johnson, told The Bismarck Tribune.

It’s not a high volume that we do scene flights with them, but it is significant,” Johnson said. “Just a week before the closure, we had a scene flight with them where they were called out.”

An inability to fulfill flight requests due to weather and inflation was a contributing factor to the company’s decision to end the service, said Nicole Michel, spokesperson for Guardian Flight’s parent company, Global Medical Response. The company said there were other challenges, but it didn’t list them.

First responders must now pick up certain patients in an ambulance while they wait 40 minutes for a helicopter to fly more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Minot’s Trinity Health trauma center to Williston, Johnson said. After the parties meet at the Williston hospital, the helicopter will bring the patient to Trinity.“

Some of those injuries are time-sensitive, so the quicker we can get those patients to those locations, the better off they’re going to be in the long run,” Johnson said.

Guardian Flight specializes in the critical medical transport of patients in some of the most remote parts of the United States, linking rural communities to health care facilities, the company’s website said.

About 27,000 people live in Williston, which is in the state’s northwest near its borders with Montana and Canada.

Guardian Flight also shut down its base at Devils Lake in northeastern North Dakota, the Tribune reported. About 7,000 people live in Devils Lake.