Getting Nightingale involved…

Getting Nightingale involved…

A message primarily to: Chiefs
ALS providers

Getting Nightingale involved…

…efficiently and effectively

In Virginia Beach, we rarely use helicopter medevac services.  When we do, we are committing people and resources to a high-visibility, high-risk, high-cost event with a potentially high reward, so it’s critical that we do this as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Years ago, it was recognized that special radio discipline was required when interacting with our regional air ambulance service, Nightingale.  Otherwise, the efficiency and effectiveness of our patient care could suffer.  In particular, strict procedures were defined for engaging Nightingale on an incident, and these procedures remain in place today.

Here are the approved procedures for engaging Nightingale for a scene flight:

“PUT NIGHTINGALE ON STANDBY” This is an option if you have not yet confirmed that an air ambulance is indeed needed.

The Virginia Beach dispatcher will call Nightingale to request a standby.  This notifies Nightingale that a launch may be requested soon.  The air crew will report to the helicopter and make all preparations for flight, short of actually launching.  Nightingale will remain in this state of readiness for up to 20 minutes.  If the air crew must respond to a different mission during the standby period, or cannot accept a mission due to weather or other factors, they will notify the Virginia Beach dispatcher that the helicopter is no longer available. Note, being on standby does not “reserve” the helicopter for any particular incident.

“LAUNCH NIGHTINGALE” The Virginia Beach dispatcher will call Nightingale to request an immediate launch.  You can “LAUNCH NIGHTINGALE” whether or not you have “PUT NIGHTINGALE ON STANDBY”.
“CANCEL NIGHTINGALE” The Virginia Beach dispatcher will call Nightingale to cancel the standby or launch request.

Requests for additional air ambulances, if necessary, should also be routed through Nightingale using the above procedures.  (Different rules apply when aircraft are needed for non-ambulance needs.)

Be aware that simply asking if Nightingale is available is not optimal:  It leaves your intentions somewhat ambiguous; it does not guarantee that the air crew will make preparations for a launch; and it does not indicate that you need a call back if the helicopter’s availability changes.  Because of these limitations, merely checking on Nightingale’s availability is not an approved procedure for engaging Nightingale.  Instead, use the specific verbal messages shown above to either “PUT NIGHTINGALE ON STANDBY” or “LAUNCH NIGHTINGALE”.

My photo
Division Chief Kevin Lipscomb, NRP
Regulation & Support Services
Va Beach EMS Department