The Newport News Shipbuilding Fire Department participates in training with the team from Sentara's Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance. Photo by Lexi Whitehead

Training to Save Lives

Published February 8, 2023

The Newport News Shipbuilding Fire Department welcomed Sentara’s Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance to the shipyard last month for training that could save lives.

Nightingale makes it possible for critically ill or injured patients to quickly reach the closest, most appropriate hospital to have their complex illness or injuries immediately addressed. While Nightingale isn’t called to NNS often, it’s important to have a plan in place in the event it is needed.

“They provide a huge advantage in serious trauma/burn calls as they can get to the correct facility faster than we can ground transport. This can mean the difference between life and death in very critical calls,” said Harold Sprague, the NNS firefighter/paramedic who set up the training.

Firefighters learned how to communicate with pilots and the correct way to set up a landing zone for the air ambulance. After the landing zones were inspected, Nightingale was contacted and landed in the North Yard. Firefighters then learned more about Nightingale’s capabilities and the extra resources it brings to the scene in an emergency.

“Training like this is critical as it makes us more comfortable calling them when they are needed. It helps the helicopter pilot become more comfortable as he knows where the predesignated landing areas are located,” Sprague said. “Our partnership helps ensure that critical patients receive the highest level of prehospital care possible.”

Sentara’s Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance prepares for landing at Newport News Shipbuilding. Photo by Lexi Whitehead