A look inside O'Fallon company's 'flying emergency room' used in - KMOV.com

A look inside O'Fallon company's 'flying emergency room' used in hurricanes

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O'FALLON, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Response time is key in emergencies. The location, along with how fast someone gets there, could mean the difference between life and death. When a community is under water, an ambulance just won't do and that's where a local company comes into play.

Dozens of monitors make up the communications center for Air Evac Lifeteam in O'Fallon, Missouri.

"It's a rapid form of medical transportation," said Joe Grygiel, the company's senior director of base operations. 

Grygiel oversees the company's 135 aircraft spread across 15 states. Each is like a flying emergency room. They're being prepared now to land in Florida once Hurricane Irma reaches mainland U.S.A. 

"Flying ERs are important because time is important, when it comes to a stroke or cardiac event," added Grygiel. 

More than 200 nurses, pilots, paramedics and support staff spent eight days in Texas during Hurricane Harvey. 

"We were basically flying into the front lines where all the disaster was and getting all of the patients out," added Grygiel. 

Grygiel and his team are figuring out the number heading to do the same in Florida. 

News 4 got a chance to get an idea of what the pilots saw during their flights. 

"When you are sitting in the cockpit, you are flying. It feels exactly as if you are in the air and flying the aircraft because of the visuals and movement of the simulator," Theo Kulczak, one of the company's three flight simulation instructors. 

Having this simulator helps Lifeteam prepare for any situation and any terrain.

"We can bring folks here, train them, so when they go to these new places they are familiar with operating in different environments," added Kulczak. 

The company sent 14 helicopters and two planes to Texas. The aircraft returned home last night. Gear for all the aircraft and crew is still in motion, headed for Alabama, where it will stay until called for in Florida. 

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