SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Inside of a helicopter is where Nik Gonzalez spends most hours of his day.
“These last two months it’s been really busy for us,” Gonzalez said. “There’s been a lot more trauma patients coming in and out of here too.”
Gonzalez has been preparing for take-off for roughly 2 years now. But says something about the past 2 months that have been unlike anything he’s experienced.
“Finding hospital beds is getting pretty hard and it does play a factor in how busy we are or aren’t. We’ve flown in a couple of places. Even this month where there wasn’t a referring hospital so the patients stayed at the hospital that we went to pick them up at because there’s no place to take them to. Which I’ve never seen before in my career.”
But that’s not the only reason for the spike in flights.
The combination of overwhelmed hospitals across the nation, mixed with what first responders call ‘trauma season,’ makes for an increase in traffic here at Mercy One in Sioux City.
“Trauma season usually starts when school lets out for the kids and more people are active out and about, boating, just out traveling more.”
The crew has been in such high demand for recent weeks, the local hospital has gotten calls from as far away as Illinois. Although they prioritize Siouxland hospitals, they have still had to take trips as long as 7 hours.
“These runs, this distance, it’s all pretty new to us. It can take a toll on the crew so just making sure they stay rested so they’re making safe decisions and doing good patient care.”
Nik says, though his job can be dangerous and oftentimes emotional, the training he has endured, has prepared him in taking on emergencies like these. He adds, having the resources in Sioux City and being able to serve the community is something he does proudly.
“Minimizing that time and getting them some of the resources like we have. Like blood, I think that’s super important for life-saving measures.”