PIPESTEM, W.Va.– More than 400 medical professionals who specialize in air medical transports will be in West Virginia this week. West Virginia will host the annual Every Coast Helicopter Operations (ECHO) Critical Care Conference Wednesday through Friday.

“We’re talking about flight nurses, flight paramedics and people in the medical field from across the country and even across the sea are coming to Pipestem, West Virginia for this critical care conference,” said Carrie Jones Corporate Communications Manger for HealthNet Aeromedical Services.

It’s the first time ever, according to Jones, the conference will be held in a rural setting. Typically the professionals gather in a big city to exchange ideas and training on how to be more effective using aircraft in emergency medical care.

“It’s so critical to us because if you’re having a heart attack or a stroke or any other medical emergency, minutes matter,” Jones said. “People understand that.”

She said the conference in West Virginia will bring in a lot of people to see the Mountain State for the first time. They hope the conference will demonstrate the critical need for medical air transport in rural America . HealthNet has ten landing bases in our region, 8 in West Virginia and one each in Ohio and Kentucky.

One unique opportunity this week will be water egress training in the pool at Pipestem.

“They’re going to put the simulator in the pool and flip them upside down,” said Jones. “They’ll teach them how not to panic, but to react and escape that aircraft underwater.”

It’s one of the many lessons which will be taught in a variety of classes. Jones added however beyond the traditional training is the networking which comes from the conference. She said by sharing time and conversation with others from other places who are also engaged in daily medical flights, it will help local HealthNet officials learn new concepts and ideas to make air flight operations here more effective.

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