A Lifetime of Dedicated Service & Honor Meet Eugene Yeates

You may or may not believe in Angels, but, if you live in the Upper Valley or most locations in Northern New England, you may want to reconsider. After 25 years of dedicated service, the Dartmouth Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) launched into a new decade saving lives and transporting patients. The following quote could best describe its heroic deeds: “Angels coming to the rescue against all harm.”

Just what is DHART? It is the critical care transport team for the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). The crews are composed of critical care transport nurses, critical care paramedics and respiratory care practitioners. DHART was founded July 1, 1994, and, after 25 years, proved beyond a doubt that it was needed. Kyle Madigan RN, MSN, CMTE serves as the Director for the state-of-the-art rescue service and explained how critical the need has become.

Kyle Madigan Director DHART Program

“In those 25 years, we have transported 35,000 patients,” Madigan said. “In 2000, we added a high-tech ambulance to further enhance our coverage, and to date, we have transported 11,108 individuals via that ambulance and 24,014 by helicopter. That works out to over two million miles flown and one million miles driving. When we started in July of 1994, our first request for transportation came just seven minutes after going online. Today, we have expanded our transportation services to cover all of Northern New England including New Hampshire, Vermont and New York State.”

Madigan  noted that, with growth and technology advancing at a rapid pace, DHART has been able to lead the way. DHMC worked with Metro Aviation and an engineering firm to meticulously map the entire region using GPS technology and created a series of routes for the pilots to follow. Those are pre-designated flight patterns that can be navigated using instruments only. DHMC made aviation history by becoming the first in the nation to develop what is termed a low-level Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) while flying, having gained approval for the system in 2013 by the FAA. Basically stated, if there is a life-saving emergency, regardless of the unpredictable New England weather, DHART will be there.

“This allows us to fly in less than ideal weather conditions to the 30 most frequently visited hospitals in New England that rely on us for critical care emergencies,” said Madigan. “If you live in this region, you realize that conditions can change rapidly, and this allows us to respond in those situations.”

With all the latest advances in technology applied to the rescue vehicles, it stands to reason those who operate that equipment have rigid standards to meet. The DHART medical crews consist of flight nurses, flight paramedics and respiratory care practitioners. Each member of that crew must obtain several of the highest medical certifications. The EMS pilots employed by Metro Aviation have a minimum of 2,500 hours of pilot in command time and maintain the necessary ratings and certificates to function in the stressful realm of EMS.

Two of those DHART medical crew members are Lebanon residents Danielle Towne, RN and Justen Stevenson who is a flight paramedic. They point out that their duties are made easier to perform by the advanced technology installed in the ambulance and helicopter.

“Basically, both the ambulance and the helicopter amount to fully-staffed emergency rooms,” Towne noted. “We have all the resources that a hospital emergency room would have only we are mobile. We can give blood transfusions, IV’s and medications. We have to work in a confined area but the patients being transported are receiving the same intimate care. We rotate shifts along with the pilot.”

Justen Stevenson and Danielle Towne inside the DHART helicopter

DHART services are being expanded as indicated by Director Madigan. In August of 2018, DHART partnered with the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. A new helicopter was put into service for the UVM operation at that time. DHART’s mission remains dedicated to the safety and well-being of those in need.

“What people may not realize is that our services here at DHART are available to just about all of Northern New England,” said Madigan. “We will respond to most any location and transport the patient to the facility of their or the family’s choice.”