During a tour of the Carolina Air Base’s expansion at the Aberdeen Fire Department Station 2, a registered nurse, paramedic, and pilot shared details on the helicopter response team.
The main helicopter, TarHeel Two, is sometimes called T2, in brevity.
According to Carolina Air Base’s affiliate, the University of North Carolina’s Critical Care Transport service, helicopters are owned and operated by Air Methods, Inc.
Pilots follow Federal Aviation Administration protocols in all areas of handling helicopters.
Pilot Barry Stroud prepares TarHeel Two to take flight from Carolina Air Base Dec. 12, 2022.
The fire department’s expansion includes new offices, bedrooms, laundry and kitchen, and a large meeting room. Burgundy-trimmed doorways highlight pathways through the new rooms painted in soothing gray. The floors are a light gray vinyl plank.
When a 911 call is dispatched to the Carolina Air Base, crews jet out to save lives. The calls involve accident and crime scenes and hospital facilities transports.
The crew, composed of 12 to 14 responders and four helicopter pilots, takes 24-hour shifts.
A team of four takes flight from the Carolina Air Base dressed in navy flight suits. A pair of wings salutes the flight suits’ nametags for those who have 50 flights of service.
Helmets have built-in ear protection from the overhead engine and transmission as the rotors cut through the air, whirring beats at speeds up to 140 knots, which is about 160 miles per hour.
With one stretcher, there is rarely room for an extra passenger.
“A family member riding along would be under extenuating circumstances,” paramedic Ronald Corrado said about the helicopter’s weight limits.
Moore County has one full-sized helicopter, TarHeel Two, and a smaller unit. Most of the helicopters in North Carolina are the smaller type.
The smaller helicopter has less interior room.
TarHeel Two has more interior room.
Scotland, Anson and Robeson counties have helicopters that are called for mutual aid.
The helicopters carry intensive care equipment, and the units have built-in fire extinguishers, but there are no parachutes.
“Pilots are trained in how to respond,” Corrado said about the possibilities of engine failure, defaults, and fires.
“There wouldn’t be time to jump out,” registered nurse Jason Jones said.
When weather conditions are too severe to take flight, an especially equipped ambulance is ready to roll. It is stocked with intensive care unit equipment. It takes longer to drive, but the advanced support team is a critical response measure for saving lives.
The flight response teams take flight to save lives 40 to 60 times each month.
Jones said the hardest cases to handle are preventable accidents, especially with children. He said he sees a balance of good over evil when people waiting for the helicopter to arrive care for the injured and ill.
Pilot Barry Stroud is a North Carolina native from Clinton and Raleigh. He divides his time between Moore County and Tennessee. His wife deals in real estate in Tennessee. His son, 26, is a teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee, and his daughter, 24, works for the Moore County Arts Council.
Paramedic Ronald Corrado has lived in Whispering Pines since 2005 with his wife. Their son, 13, brags about his father’s lifesaving work, but Corrado refused to talk on video about his work, saying it is his job. Their daughter, 23, is a pharmacy student at Campbell University.
Jason Jones is from Alamance County and lives in Chatham County. He was a nurse’s aide in 1992, then an emergency medical technician, and became a registered nurse in 2000. His wife is a school nurse in Chatham County, and they have five children and two grandchildren. His two older boys are 26 and 27. His girls are still at home.
The advice from the team for friends and family waiting for help is the helicopter response team is the best available care.
That reassurance is what people around here call a blessing.
Feature photo: Carolina Air Base team, paramedic Ronald Corrado (left), registered nurse Jason Jones, and pilot Barry Stroud are ready to serve.
~Article, photos, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].