Posted by: David | April 29, 2010


Went for a bike ride last weekend and took the camera. It was sort of an aimless ride north on Route 103. Trying to turn off my brain I was. No destination. Into the wind. Should have been riding with some friends, but was somewhat out of sorts, so the decision was to strike out on me own. The first stop was at a convenience store where I bought some lottery tickets, a Gatorade, and a new snack in a bag called Corn Nuts Chips. They were little dime-sized disks covered with the addictive orange crack powder of salt, MSG, pepper, cocaine, meth, and who knows what all? A little easier to crunch than the standard Corn Nut. I ate about a third of the little bag sitting on one of the nice new benches in Newbury Harbor. I stuffed the rest of the bag into my pocket and headed further up the road.

To the Sunapee State Park beach. There were a few other folks there, mostly picnicking families. I sit at a picnic table and finish off the Corn Nuts Chips and Gatorade. While doing this I hear some helicopters. They’re coming from the north, two of them, which soon are recognizable as the DHART (Dartmouth Hitchcock Advanced Response Team) ambulance helicopters. Don’t usually see two of them at once.  And they were circling low in the sky, toward the ski area parking lot. They were landing there. Decided it was worth investigating so I rode over to the ski area. The parking lot was pretty full of cars, people, and all sorts of emergency vehicles. Apparently it was an EMS Conference. And there were the two helicopters, in the northwest corner of the parking lot. Glad I had the camera.

This is where the patient gets loaded in. If there was one on the stretcher we’d see their feet.

closer view of the patient loading area.

ne of the EMTs was talking to these kids.

I chatted up one of the pilots. He was very friendly. He saw my bicycle, so mostly we talked about cycling. He’d been in the service for 22 years before taking a job as a corporate pilot. Flying this ambulance has been his favorite job of all. He suggested that I have someone bring me and bike up to Newport, Vermont, and then take a week to ride down Route 100. He had done it, stopping at bed & breakfasts the whole way. B & Bs with hot tubs are especially desirable. Yeah I should try that some day.

The tail fan fascinated me for some reason.

The driver’s seat.

o-pilot’s seat?

otice the ski area in the background. Still patches of snow here and there.

After this excitement I went a little further up Route 103 and visited a friend from work. Coincidentally enough, her husband is an EMT and was attending the conference I’d just seen. Anyway it was pretty inspiring to see all these fine people and their gear, knowing they’ll be ready to drop whatever they’re doing to come and rescue whoever needs to be rescued. Here’s some information copied and pasted from a web article published last summer.

DHART Enhances Service in Southern NH Region
After nearly two years of planning, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) is pleased to announce that one of its two helicopters, along with a full crew, will be based in a private hangar at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport beginning in late July. One helicopter will continue to be based at DHMC. DHART’s two ground transport vehicles will remain based in Lebanon at DHMC.
“Out-basing” a helicopter in Manchester will provide faster response times to the largest population centers in New Hampshire.  Faster response times mean that critically ill or injured patients will arrive sooner at the closest appropriate hospital, setting the stage for better outcomes. Having a second base also means DHART helicopter response will not be limited by the weather conditions in a single location.

Approximately 80-85 percent of DHART’s critical care patient transport services are from one hospital to another. The rest are “scene calls,” primarily motor vehicle accidents. DHART crews provide transportation services throughout Northern New England and transport seriously ill or injured patients to the closest Trauma Center in the region’s five states.

In 15 years of service, DHART has transported over 15,000 patients:

Total Emergency Air Transports: 10,631

Inter-Hospital 7,548
Scene 1,580
Pediatric (ages 28 days to 18 yrs) 871
Neonatal (age 0 to 27 days) 632

Total Emergency Ground Transports: 4,835

Inter-Hospital 2,714
Pediatric (ages 28 days to 18 yrs) 933
Neonatal (age 0 to 27 days) 1188

The total DHART team of about 60 includes Communications Specialists, Flight Nurses, Flight Paramedics, Respiratory Care Practitioners, EMTs, Pilots, and Airframe and Power Plant Mechanics. Operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week, DHART crews transport adult, pediatric and neonatal patients to any appropriate medical facility in New England. Aviation services are provided by Metro Aviation, Inc., a company that is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to provide pilots, mechanics and aircraft for critical care transportation services like DHART.  DHMC owns one of the helicopters and leases the second from Metro Aviation.

Established July 1, 1994, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) is currently based at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire’s only verified Level I Adult Trauma Center and the only verified Pediatric Level I Trauma Center in Northern New England. DHART operates two American Eurocopter EC 135 aircraft.  The EC135 represents the latest in aviation technology allowing DHART to meet the mission of providing care and transport to critically ill and injured patients anywhere in Northern New England. DHART was the first program in New England to use Night Vision Goggles to enhance mission safety.


  1. Corn Nuts Chips? That’s a terrible thing to do to Corn Nuts!

    They’ve actually done that WITH Corn Nuts, not TO Corn Nuts. The regular old item is still available. The chips have the same flavor, but are a little easier on the teeth. Of course, they are obviously more processed. The whole kernel effect of the original product was always part of the appeal to me.

  2. The ‘inside’ name for the DART is the ‘Death-Bat.’ Just FYI.

    And, I used to love going on aim-less bike trips, think they actually turn out better than planned ones, sometimes.

    Thank you for commenting Chris. That’s a little eerie “Death-Bat”. I may have to check on that with my DHMC insiders to see what other dark comedy I may be missing.

    Aimless bike trips are definitely a special treat. Sometimes when I ride with friends as indecisive as myself we take turns deciding the next turn, left or right. Round-robin aimlessness. Fun!

  3. Okay, I have always been bothered by how difficult it is to eat Corn Nuts, so if there’s a more chewable version AND it’s covered in meth/cocaine just like my fave MSG snacks…helllloooo, I’m in! 😉

    Yes, they are easier to chew for sure. Less risk to delicate dental work. I recommend the Drug Addict flavor. Especially good tasting to the broken hearted. 😦 I found a blog by a couple of guys who love snacks. They review the new snack. Who knows if the chips will catch on?

  4. In Switzerland there are also helicopters of this kind, and they have to do dangerous work. There is a famous mountain called the Eiger, and its North side is an almost vertical stone wall. People from all over the world try to climb up that wall. It is considered a sport. I met one of them here in Spain, and his “day job” (isn’t that the novel word for “job”?) is fixing the fassades of apartment blocks. He is a New Ager and talks about the “energies” that you get from a stone wall.

    Because it takes more than a day to climb that wall, people have to sleep in bags hanging in bags tied with ropes to the stone, and sometimes the weather changes suddenly and they freeze to death. The helicopters try to save them or, if they are really dead, to cut them off the ropes so that they fall down (to prevent them from rotting in situ). — The tourists watch them with binoculars from the other side of the valley (and the tourist industry would suffer if they were allowed to rot.)

    To save them or to cut the ropes the helicopters have to try flying very close to the rock wall.

    I have met a few rock climbers. New Age or not, I’m thinking the expense of energy outweighs the intake on climbing the Eiger. But having to cut down the ones that freeze to death in the attempt, well that’s quite creepy my friend. After seeing a movie called “Touching The Void” I decided that these people were slightly insane. But to each their own …

    “Day job” has a connotation of regular vocation or employment, and is generally used in opposition to a hobby or other interest less than likely to generate profit. Example: aspiring karaoke fiends might be told to “keep their day jobs” while pursuing their careers as famous singers.

  5. What a total bait & switch. Here I was ready to read about Lifesavers, the candy, and low and behold I am bombarded with a bike ride, Corn Nut Chips, flying ambulances (sweet rides), and barely ski-able slopes. Still, a pretty cool little adventure all in all.

    I hope you were able to get your head straightened out. 😉

    Hi Peter! Thanks for your comment. Yeah I know, this post was a little sneaky. That’s what I get for cycling around aimlessly and then seeing two helicopters landing nearby. I appreciate your well-wishes, and I almost do have my head straightened out. I’m overdue for another post, but have some kind of blog constipation going on. Guess I need a good laxative or something. 🙂

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