News Release #3
Friends Of The Crested Butte Airport, Inc.
PO Box 1230, Crested Butte, CO  81224
Tel/Fax 800-663-5374
Carlo Cesa: 303-905-7540
Medical Airlift Training Takes Place at the Crested Butte Airport in Cold and Windy Conditions with State-Of-The-Art Ambulance Aircraft
October 25, 2001, Crested Butte, Colorado — An Emergency Airlift Exercise took place at the Crested Butte Airport on Wednesday afternoon, October 24, 2001.
A Beechcraft Super King Air B200 Flight-For-Life Air Ambulance flew-in from Denver to participate in a training exercise organized by Crested Butte Surgeon Dr. Thomas Moore and Allen Bailey of the local Fire Protection Department.
It was the very first time for twenty Crested Butte EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) and Search and Rescue volunteers to receive advanced training in Flight-For-Life operations. A Mt. Crested Butte Police officer also participated despite the cold wind.
Denver Flight-For-Life Nurse David Kearns (RN, MS, Clinical RN1) presented for almost two hours a hands-on training session emphasizing patient preparation for the evacuation flight and patient loading in and out of the aircraft.
Veteran Flight Nurse David Kearns also demonstrated some of the medical technology available as standard equipment in the air ambulance fixed wing aircraft (defibrillator, ventilator, etc.). Kearns who serves as medical crew on both rotary and fixed wing aircraft stressed that helicopters are not always available and are used mostly for short distance evacuations. He added that fixed wing aircraft, such as the Super King Air, offer a much better environment (larger cabin, better and more equipment) for the flight nurse and flight surgeon to preserve life of critically injured patients.
Flight-For-Life Captain Dan Alsum who flew the Super King Air B200 from Denver, praised that the Crested Butte runway was in excellent condition and equipped with runway lights for 24 hours, year round operations and stated that such runway would save lives in the community. "However," Alsum added, "if the Crested Butte runway is to be shortened this aircraft would not be able to operate here anymore."
Also scheduled to participate was the Twin Commander 690A Air Ambulance from St. Mary Hospital in Grand Junction. Because of an actual medical evacuation that Wednesday afternoon, the St. Mary crew had to cancel at the last minute.
Note that due to the wind conditions Wednesday evening, the departing Flight-For-Life aircraft had to take off against the wind, to the northwest, or uphill (runway 29). This is important to note, because there have been several attempts by the County to ban uphill take offs towards the northwest in order to build an access road for a planned high density development (Buckhorn Ranch) of more than 500 units. The prevailing winds in the Crested Butte area are from the northwest.
The Crested Butte airport was built in 1975 by local resident Ron Rouse. The 4,500 feet long runway was fully re-paved in 1997. Since 1996 the airport has been available year-round to emergency medical airlift evacuations (80% of airport operations), to business and visitors to the area. Gunnison County and a real estate developer are trying to destroy 500 feet of paved runway and restrict the airport usage to only 15 local pilots.
One potential emergency scenario included a traffic accident blocking highway 135 at the East River bridge, just south of Hidden River Ranch and cutting road transportation between Crested Butte and Gunnison. All the participating Crested Butte Emergency Medical Technicians and Search and Rescue volunteers voiced their concerns in having the Crested Butte airport shortened by a road or closed altogether.
Aircraft Specifications: Beechcraft Super King Air B200 Air-Ambulance
Max Take Off Weight: 12,500 lbs. Fuel Capacity (std.) 3,645 lbs. Useful Load 4,140 lbs. Maximum Payload 1,540 lbs.
Power Plant two P&W Model PT6A-42, thrust 850 SHP (Shaft Horse Power).
Crew Pilot 1, Medical Crew 2-3, Patients on stretchers 2.
Dimensions Length 43.9 ft. Height 15.0 ft. Wing Span 54.6 ft. Cabin Volume 256 Cu Ft.
Performance Rate of Climb All Engines 2,140 FT/MIN at seal level, Max Cruise Speed 294 knots.
Aircraft Specifications: Twin Commander 690-B Air-Ambulance.
Max Take Off Weight: 9,675 lbs. Fuel Capacity (std.) 2,573 lbs. Useful Load 3,175 lbs.
Maximum Payload 1,600 lbs.
Power Plant two Allied Model TPE 331-5-251, thrust 717 SHP (Shaft Horse Power).
Crew Pilot 1, Medical Crew 2, Patients on stretchers 2.
Dimensions Length 44.4 ft. Height 14.1 ft. Wing Span 46.8 ft. Cabin Volume 184 Cu Ft.
Performance Rate of Climb All Engines 2,821 FT/MIN at seal level, Max Cruise Speed 286 knots.
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