Flight Rescue: A look inside the Marion, IL Air Evac Lifeteam - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Flight Rescue: A look inside the Marion, IL Air Evac Lifeteam

MARION, IL (KFVS) - When patients in critical condition need a rapid response, air ambulance flight teams swoop in to save lives.

The highly trained Marion, Illinois Air Evac Lifeteam is one of those highly trained flight crews that lift off in a moments notice to save lives across the Heartland.

“I have to go from nice and calm to 0 to 60 in a snap of my fingers," John Ruhnke said, a flight paramedic with Air Evac that has more than 30 years experience.

Flight paramedic Eric Cordy says you have to be ready for anything in his profession.

“You may here one thing and it may be another," Cordy said.

These flight teams are tasked with landing in tight spots or must maneuver around hazards on the ground and many of the patients they are treating are in critical condition as they often come out of serious situations like car crashes.

“When that patient really needs to get to a trauma center, they call us," Ruhnke said.

The helicopter is a mobile emergency room filled with the latest medical equipment and gadgets like night goggles so the crew can work in the toughest condition.

For flight nurse Nick Shockley, he said he does this job because he wants to save lives. 

“It's just the satisfaction that we played a role in providing the care that somebody needs," Shockley said.

But these men and women rarely get a thanks. Often times their patients don't even remember how they got to the hospital.

“You might end up holding someone's hand the whole flight you might end of saying a prayer with them," Cordy said. "Sometimes just a pat on the shoulder and telling them hey, ‘we are here for you' is all they need.”

The hardest part of the job Ruhnke said was failure.

“There's times that things don't work out the way you want them to. I don't save every patient," Ruhnke said.

A recent study by Emory University showed that patients transported by air are much more likely to survive than by ground.

The service doesn't come cheap and is often not covered by insurance. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of an air transport is between $12,000 and $25,000 dollars.

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