Dispatching an air ambulance is a complex task. Not only is it necessary to understand the complexities of critically ill and injured patients, but working at CALCOM also requires an understanding of aviation—not to mention a high level of proficiency with a variety of computer systems and software platforms. CALCOM support allows the CALSTAR nurses and pilots to focus more on the aviation and medicine that go into life-saving flights and worry less about the logistics of making them happen.
CALCOM provides communication services for all of the CALSTAR bases from Ukiah to Santa Maria. CALCOM takes calls from many different types of places—remote, rural communities in Mendocino County, urban areas such as Concord, community hospitals like Watsonville Community and specialty referral centers like UCSF. CALCOM ensures that the closest appropriate aircraft is always sent—even if it means calling one of our CAMTS-accredited neighbors—so that patients get the care they need in the least amount of time. CALCOM ensures the appropriate team is sent on missions such as neonatal team transports, intra-aortic balloon pumps and other specialty team flights. CALCOM also plays an important role in safety by coordinating with ground crews and hospital security so when the aircraft lands, the helipad or LZ is secure for the team and patient.
Staffed by a team of dedicated communications specialists, CALCOM works with emergency responders, referring hospitals and physicians and our partners at five CALFIRE Emergency Communication Centers to complete every transport safely. CALCOM is the communications link between hospital staff, airport staff, security personnel, medical crews, pilots, maintenance, CALFIRE, ground ambulance crews and CALSTAR administrative staff, providing detailed information, directions and patient information to everyone involved in the care of the patient.
Interactive mapping, real-time flight dispatching, online weather radar and global positioning system (GPS) technology enable CALCOM to locate accident scenes quickly and pinpoint landing zones and accurately track our aircraft down to the meter. All of this technology, along with two-way radios, telephone, data and alphanumeric paging are woven into a single work station for each communications specialist. From any given station, they can conduct conference calls, patch calls and transfer flight and patient information between flight medical crews, pilots, ground emergency response providers, hospitals and other agencies involved in the air medical response and patient transport process.
All CALCOM staff are certified by the National Association of Air Medical Communications Specialists as Certified Flight Communicators (CFC).
The highly trained staff in the CALCOM Transport Coordination Center (CTCC) specializes in assisting our customers in all aspects of transport coordination to insure a smooth, safe, and efficient transfer of the patient. This single-call solution is designed for referring physicians and their staff to transfer patients from one health care facility to another. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the CTCC establishes and maintains communications with referring facilities and staff throughout the patient transfer process. The center serves as a single point of contact for clinical triage, transfer coordination, and inter-facility transports, including regular updates on the patient’s status during the transport.
Our goal is to provide a single-call resource for physicians and facilities needing to move a critically ill or injured patient. We will expedite patient transfers and ensure appropriate utilization of resources, working with a variety of transport partners. The CTCC is the crucial information link for the referring and receiving units, as well as the transport staff.
Whether the need is to move a patient by helicopter, airplane or ground ambulance, the CTCC can manage the entire transport from start to finish and will provide status reports throughout the transport. To use the CTCC for a transport request, the following information is needed at the time of the request:
- Requestor name; contact number for MD and facility
- Referring MD/facility name
- Diagnosis of patient
- Date of birth
- Urgency of transport (immediate, urgent or scheduled)
- Type of transport being requested (rotor, fixed wing, CCT ground or ALS ground.)