An annual meeting for the air medical community

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By Brent Bundy | November 8, 2022

Estimated reading time 10 minutes, 44 seconds.

The air medical community has gathered again for the annual Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) in Tampa, Florida.

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During AMTC22 Elevated, 10 helicopters from Airbus, Bell and Leonardo were deployed so that spectators could experience first-hand some of the latest and most popular models equipped with modern medical configurations. Images of Brent Bundy

The showroom was open October 24-26 for attendees to meet vendors and view their offerings. Several training sessions took place during and for three days before the main event.

In recent years, various incidents have caused disputes within the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), the organizers of the AMTC. From political unrest in the host city to global pandemic breaks, the annual meeting faced almost insurmountable obstacles. However, like the professionals they represent, AAMS has risen to the challenges and overcome them to deliver a world-class function – and this year was no exception.

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More than 1,500 people attended this year’s AMTC22 Elevated, the annual event for the air medical community. Image by Brent Bundy

In late September, Hurricane Ian formed in the Atlantic Ocean before crossing the Caribbean and making landfall on the west coast of Florida as a record breaking Category 4 storm less than a month before AMTC22.

Fortunately, Tampa-area residents were spared the catastrophic impact seen elsewhere in the Sunshine State. With heavy hearts for those lost in the previous weeks, the convention continued on schedule, with tributes throughout the week celebrating the bravery of the air medical community who participated in rescue efforts throughout the tragedy.

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The sold-out 44,000 square foot (4,090 square meter) showroom was open Oct. 24-26 for attendees to meet vendors and view their offerings. Image by Brent Bundy

A sold-out 44,000 square foot (4,090 square meter) exhibit hall at the Waterfront Tampa Convention Center hosted 122 exhibitors showcasing all kinds of products and services.

In addition to many healthcare-specific items on display, 10 helicopters from Airbus, Bell and Leonardo were dispatched so that the more than 1,500 spectators could experience first-hand some of the latest and most popular models fitted with configurations modern medical. Ground care and transportation methods were also available for viewing.

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More than 120 exhibitors showcased various healthcare-specific products and services at AMTC22 Elevated in Tampa, Florida. Image by Brent Bundy

Opening session

AAMS Acting President and CEO Kolby Kolbet kicked off the event by welcoming the visiting medical staff and introducing the keynote speakers. The first was Rebekah Gregory, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.

Positioned at the finish line, Gregory took the brunt of one of the explosions, effectively shielding his five-year-old son and saving his life. She was seriously injured and spent a week in a coma, before having her left leg amputated.

Her story is one of overcoming her experience and striving to help others through her charity, Rebekah’s Angels. Another person present at that same Boston Marathon was the next speaker, Dr. Bryan Canterbury.

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From left are Rebekah Gregory, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, Dr. Bryan Canterbury, the physician assigned to the medical tent at the finish line, and Kolby Kolbet, president and CEO by Acting Association of Air Medical Services (AAM). Image by Brent Bundy

Canterbury was assigned to the medical tent at the finish line when the devices exploded and rushed to the scene to provide emergency trauma care to the dozens of victims. He talked about overcoming the inevitable post-traumatic stress disorder of such an event and the importance of asking for help no matter how strong you think they are.

During the opening session, several air medical operators were recognized for specific acts of heroism as well as decades of service to their communities. To top off the awards, Program of the Year recipient Avera Careflight has bases throughout South Dakota and covers areas of Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Avera began operations in 1986 with a single aircraft and has expanded to four locations with dedicated fixed-wing, rotary-wing and ground services.

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The training sessions at AMTC22 Elevated were not only valuable from an experience perspective, but offered Continuing Education (CE) credits in a variety of areas. Image by Brent Bundy

Education sessions

Training opportunities for medical personnel were plentiful. The sessions were not only valuable from an experience perspective, but offered Continuing Education (CE) credits in a variety of areas.

From interactive clinical labs to communication methods to pilot and crew safety practices, a wide range of topics were taught. Participants were impressed with the large number of continuing education credit options, with many saying the clinical competition was the best they had seen in years.

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Members of the public watched several rounds of the Sim Cup competition and saw Canadian STARS from Saskatchewan win the trophy for 2022. Brent Bundy Image

Many of the protocols that were discussed could be seen in action throughout the week at what has become one of the convention’s most popular and entertaining events, the Sim Cup.

This is a critical care skills and simulation competition using realistic scenarios to challenge teams of two-person medical professionals working on realistic simulation equipment. Audience members watched several rounds of competition and saw the Canadian STARS from Saskatchewan win the trophy for 2022.

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The Sim Cup is a critical care and simulation skills competition using realistic scenarios to challenge a team of two medical professionals working on realistic simulation equipment. Image by Brent Bundy

Continuing the theme of recognizing the efforts and achievements of individuals and medical programs, helicopter manufacturers bestowed accolades and celebrated purchases and deliveries at several booth events.

This included presenting Airbus Helicopters to Colorado-based Flight for Life for being the very first air medical operator in the United States 50 years ago.

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At AMTC22 Elevated, Bell partnered with Air Link representatives from Nebraska’s Regional West Medical Center to showcase the recently delivered 407GXi. Image by Brent Bundy

Bell partnered with Air Link representatives from Western Nebraska Regional Medical Center to show off the recently delivered 407GXi, while Leonardo and Life Link III personnel unveiled the soon to be operational AW169, which was completed by Metro Aviation.

AAMS and the rest of the airline medical community will gather again for AMTC23 in Columbus, Ohio, October 23-25, 2023.

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