Reach for the sky

November 19, 2018

REACH Air Medical Services showed off its Roseburg-based helicopter Saturday and gave community members a chance to meet crew members and get up close to the craft.

The open house featured information about REACH service that REACH offers, and some of the Douglas County fire departments that work closely with REACH on rescues and medical transports.

Local fire departments say REACH has been a good partner to work with and the helicopter is able to get patients to a hospital facility much quicker than an ambulance especially for the very rural departments in the county.

“I’ve been in the helicopter for the training they did with us, and they’re great, they’re really good to work with, very knowledgeable and any time they need training they come and help us out,” said North Douglas firefighter Tim Addison.

The pilots are based in Roseburg, and there is always a flight nurse and and a flight paramedic on each trip. The REACH helicopter covers a large area of western Oregon and even into northern California.

“We’ve been asked to go to Humbolt county in California, up to Tillamook, but generally, when they find out it’s going to take us that long, if it’s that far away, they look for other options,” said pilot Carter Rickert. “But northern California up to Portland is our range, and along the coast.”

Flight nurse Jessica Lucas says they do a lot of transporting patients from one facility to another and many times they’ll make as many as three trips a day.

“We go to Portland quite a bit, and we go to Eugene and to the coast, we’ve ended up in Redding, but typically for rescues it’ll be in southern Oregon,” Lucas said.

Samuel Flores, the program director for Roseburg and North Bend REACH offices, said with the closest level-1 trauma center being in Portland it makes their services extremely important.

“You can basically get from here to Portland in about 60 minutes, and that’s the important part,” Flores said. “Time is critical.”

Besides the helicopter in Roseburg, REACH has a fixed-wing plane based at the North Bend airport for longer trips.

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