Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Nightingale helicopter ambulance team celebrates serving Hampton Roads for 35 years now.
NORFOLK, VA – Nightingale Helicopter Ambulance service celebrates 35 years of serving Hampton Roads and surrounding areas.
Since 1982, Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance has flown more than 20,000 accident-free missions out of Sentara Norfolk General. This year, the air helicopter marks 35 years of service in a region that includes Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck and parts of northern North Carolina. Nightingale completed 740 flights in 2016, flight records show — more than two a day.
Nightingale’s team consists of 29 people — pilots, paramedics, nurses and mechanics as well as dispatchers who act as the helicopter’s guardian angels, watching its flight from the hospital to its destination and back, and checking the crew’s progress every 15 minutes.
“When I started, it was almost exclusively trauma. Now, we do a lot more, like heart attacks, strokes,” said 28-year Nightingale veteran flight paramedic Chet Flemming “We help put people in front of doctors faster.”
Four helicopters have been used as the Nightingale helicopter ambulance over the years. The newest one, a Eurocopter model, went online in 2011. The previous Nightingale is stored in a nearby hanger and used as a back-up when the new one requires maintenance. Each flight crew has a pilot, nurse and paramedic.
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