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November 24, 2014 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-24

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 24, 2014 - 3A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, November 24, 2014- 3A

I

",V OF ". , R' A-00907

RUBY WALLAU/Daily
TOP ROW: Survival Flight helicopter pilot Kim Pacsai inspect one of the team's three helicopters. BOTTOM LEFT: Pacsai logs flight miles at the Livingston Emergency Medical Services headquarters. The Survival Flight team is responsible for servic-
ing over 200,000 square miles of populated areas. BOTTOM RIGHT: Pacsai wears a helmet and radio set equipped with night vision goggles during flights.

FLIGHT
From Page 1A
is good around the state today.
"I'm here for 12 hours, and
sometimes we fly, sometimes we
don't," Pacsai said.
Pacsai, a lifelong Michigan
resident and graduate of Michi-
gan Technological University, has
bee icopters for over 30
years - eight years in the Marine
Corps and 18 in the Coast Guard
before spending the last five with
Survival Flight.
His job has taken him around
the world. During his career, he's
been stationed in Michigan, Cali-
fornia, South Carolina, Virginia,
Florida, Alaska and Japan, per-
forming transport flights, search
and rescue and - in his current
position - medical transport.
Despite a relatively low num-
ber of transfers - Survival Flight
typically runs about three calls
per day - the program is involved
in some of the most critical cases
coming into the University.
Most of the cases accepted
by the program are transfers to
one of the University's intensive
care units, where patients with
potentially life-threatening inju-
ries can receive around-the-clock
care from a team of specialists,
depending on the case. While
these units are found at health

systems around the state, certain
types of specialty care can best
be handled by experts at the Uni-
versity, requiringsuch patients be
transported to University facili-
ties, sometimes from hundreds or
even thousands of miles away.
To receive a Survival Flight
transfer, a patient's doctor must
first contact a physician at the
University and have them agree
to take the case. From there, they
can make a request for the patient
to be transferred via traditional
ground ambulance or by one of
the handful of air transport pro-
grams currently operating in
Michigan.
Pacsai inspect one of the three
Eurocopter EC-155 helicopters
used to transport patients outside
of the University Hospital. (Ruby
Wallau/Daily)
The key to a successful trans-
fer, Pacsai said, is limiting the
time out of the hospital.
For critically-ill patients, even
a couple of hours outside of the
hospital can be detrimental to the
recovery process. While ground
ambulances can in most cases
transport patients effectively,
they are limited by certain fac-
tors, such as road conditions and
distance between hospitals.
The Survival Flight helicop-
ters, on the other hand, can travel
300 miles at about 165 miles per
hour, transporting patients from
Grand Rapids to the University

in about 45 minutes, compared to
a ground ambulance, which can
easily take 2 hours under perfect
conditions in no traffic.
In general, Pacsai said ground
ambulances also tend to be
uncomfortable for the patient.
"The helicopter can be rough,
but in general our effort is to
make it smooth and it can be a
much smoother ride than some
ambulances given the road condi-
tions," Pacsai said.
In addition to the speed of
transports, Survival Flight pro-
vides a higher level of care than
standard ambulance services.
The two flight medics that travel
onboard the helicopter - respon-
sible for providing care to a patient
during transport - are registered
nurses and paramedics. Based on
this training, they are able to pro-
vide a similar level of care to what
a patient might receive in any hos-
pital intensive care unit.
While ICU-to-ICU transfers
make up about 80 to 85 percent of
calls, the program also performs
emergency scene calls as needed
throughout the region. Pacsai said
he has been called to land in some
pretty unique locations, such as
the M14-I75 interchange. In these
situations, first-responders are
responsible for assessing whether
the helicopter is needed based on
a combination of safety consid-
erations, speed of transport and
accessibility of the landing zone.

"My biggest reward for being
(at Survival Flight) is the fact that
we fly people who really need a
ride," Pacsai said.
Pacsai said his most important
role in the program is to ensure
the safety ofhimself and the crew.
This emphasis on safety draws on
first-hand knowledge of its inher-
ent dangers. In June 2007, six
members of the Survival Flight
program died when their fixed-.
wing aircraft crashed into Lake
Michigan.
"Our hearts are broken by this
devastating and irreplaceable
loss for the University of Michi-
gan community," said University
President Emerita Mary Sue Cole-
man at a press conference the day
after the event.
In an interview with The
Michigan Daily in March 2014,
Coleman, reflecting on her time in
office, said the weeks and months
following that crash were some
of the most difficult of her entire
tenure, as she personally attended
funerals for the deceased mem-
bers of the University community.
John Bullen, a flight nurse who
has been with the program for
more than 20 years, knew most of
the people on the flight. The crash
struck him and other members
of the program hard, but in the
years since they have rededicated
themselves to improving safety.
Still, he said they take pause every

June to remember the events and
look for ways to improve.
"If you think the work you do
is important, one needs to carry
on," Bullen said. "That was what
we did ... It's not ever going to be
risk free, but we do everything we
can do to minimize that risk."
Pacsai said the medical trans-
port industry as a whole has made
a similar commitment. His men-
tality has changed since his time
in the service, an inevitable'esult
of the change inresponsibilities.
He recalled a flight he took
over Green Bay during his time
in the Coast Guard in an effort to
rescue someone who had fallen
in the frigid water. The crew was
"dodging rain squalls and thun-
derstorms" to get to the individu-
al, flying close to the water in low
visibility.
Pacsai described the situation
as "pretty dicey."
"The bottom line: if you put
yourself in a situation where you
feel uncomfortable, you've made
decisions before that got you
there," he said. "You make the
decision when you're comfort-
able, so you don't have to do the
.crazy stuff when you're uncom-
fortable."
Unlike the Coast Guard and
Marines, Pacsai said he feels no
pressure to fly when conditions
are poor at Survival Flight. He
takes comfort in knowing that,
within the health system they

serve, there's always a backup
plan.
In Livingston, skies are blue and
the winds are calm as Pacsai and
the flight team approach the end of
their 12-hour shift. Several mem-
bers of the flight crew sit in the
command center watching televi-
sion, and one member from the fol-
lowing shift starts to unpack their
gear for the night shift.
A call comes in over a yellow
handheld radio sitting next to one
of the desktop computers - patient
transfer, sepsis. The team plots a
flight route toward Monroe. Once
they pick up their patient, it will
be a quick 20-minute flight to Ann
Arbor.
The patient is stable in the ICU,
so Bullen and the other flight nurse
take a couple minutes to call the
hospital and get a more detailed
patient history. If possible, they
aim to show up at the hospital
with all the necessary equipment
already onboard.
Five minutes later, the rotor
blades are spinning. Pacsai sits at
the controls running his pre-flight
checklist. He checks left and right
down the runway - gaining his
awareness of traffic in the area
- then slowly builds power, lift-
ing the wheels off the ground and
turning his aircraft toward the
southeast corner of the field.
"We give people a chance, that's
what they get."

CONFERENCE
From Page 1A
measured by real gross domestic
product output, to rise - from
the current 2.2 percent to 3.1
percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent
in 2016.
Manaenkov and Hall also fore-
see 2.7 million jobs being generat-
ed in 2015 and another 2.6 million
in 2016, for a total of 5.3 million
across the country over the next
two years.
Michigan Research Prof.
George A. Fulton, director of
RSQE, discussed the job mar-
ket forecast for Michigan in his
presentation on Friday. He said
the state will have created about
463,000 jobs between the sum-
mer of 2009 and 2016, with the
largest growth being in the pro-
fessional and business sector
where 33,000 jobs are expected
to be added.
The economists predict that
the unemployment rate for both
the U.S. and Michigan should
continue to fall over the next two
years.
Manaenkov and Hall predicted
the national rate to lie at 5.4 per-
cent at the end of 2015 and then
drop to 5 percent by the end of
2016. Michigan's unemployment
rate is currently at 7.2 percent, but
Fulton expects it to be at 6.7 after

2015 and a low 6.3 percent going
into 2017.
"In all, the Michigan economy
has certainly come a long way in
the past five years, and that prog-
ress should be celebrated," Fulton
said.
Nigel Gault, Co-Chief Econo-
mist at The Parthenon Group, a
consulting firm, disagreed with
Manaenkov's prediction for U.S.
GDP growth.
"We need to be realistic about
long term growth in the com-
ing years," he said. "We should
expect 2 percent (growth) rather
than 3 percent."
Along with GDP and job
growth, the housing market is
projected to continue to recover
slowly after home sales plummet-
ed following the 2009 recession.
"Job gains is the key deter-
minant," said David W. Berson,
Nationwide Mutual Insurance
Company's senior vice president
and chief economist while pre-
senting on home sales. "The good
news is that job growth has been
pickingup, and the monthlygains
(in home sales) in 2014 are by far
the strongest in this expansion."
When asked which elements
of his presentation of the confer-
ence as a whole he believed to be
most relevant to college students,
Manaenkov reiterated his predic-
tions for the job market.
"There's research that suggests

that the state of the labor market
when one gets their first job out
of college has a permanent effect
on lifetime income," he wrote in
an e-mail. "Because of that, cur-
rent students who will graduate
into a better market will probably
be better off than those that did
graduate recently."
Trends in vehicle sales, vehicle
safety and gas prices were also a
topic of discussion on both days of
the conference.
Nationwide, light vehicle
sales are expected to increase.
Manaenkov and Hall predicted
16.6 million units sold in 2015 and
17 million in 2016, with truck sales
dominatingthe market as demand
for SUVs and CUVs, crossover
utility vehicles, increases.
Richard Wallace, director of
Transportation Systems Analy-
sis at the Center for Automotive
Research, discussed the vehicular
innovations we should expect to
see in the upcoming years, partic-
ularly in vehicle connectivity and
communication.
CAR is researching a topic
called connected vehicles, which
would allow close together cars
on the road to communicate with
each other and roadside infra-
structure. Wallace hopes this
communication would increase
vehicle and roadway safety and
mobility and reduce greenhouse
gas emissions.

"You don't need to know about imity," Wallace said. remain stable at approximately
vehicles that are miles away from Manaenkov and Hall project $79 to $80 per barrel through
you, but you do 'need to know gas prices to maintain their cur- 2016.
about ones that are in your prox- rent levels, as oil prices should

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