Care Flight Fundraiser Offers Unique Experience

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RENO, NV -- The non-profit medical air ambulance Care Flight is offering a unique opportunity for the public to look inside its operation without the emergency.

Terri Vandenhende had never been in a helicopter... but it was just one more thing to check off her bucket list.

"I was a little nervous but excited nervous, so i just couldn't wait to do it," she said. "I like the turbulence, the take-offs, landing; I'm the kind of person who likes to move around."

She took the chance of a lifetime to see Reno in a whole new perspective, 1000 feet up, that is.

"...Getting to recognize things as you're going over them and saying 'there's my house, there's my mom's house, there's my daughter's house.'"

It's all part of "Flight for a Cause," Care Flight's annual fundraiser that gives you a personal glimpse at how medical operators work when they're off the ground.

"Care Flight is kind of a mystery in itself. People aren't around helicopters all the time; they probably know we're an air ambulance of sorts, but they probably don't know the extent of the abilities that our medical personnel have and what we can and can't do in this aircraft," Kurt Althof, business administrator for Care Flight, said.

There's no rest for these medics; they carry about 1,200 patients from all over northern Nevada and Truckee, CA each year.

"We're on call 365 days a year ready to respond day or night," he said.

It's also not cheap to maintain--from fuel costs, to repairs to specialized equipment, the $4,000,000 aircraft relies solely on donations.

"{The fundraiser} is enough to cover our cost and make a little bit of money that we put towards some medical equipment or upgrade of medical equipment that we may have."

For the adrenaline junkie, it was the best 20 minutes money could buy.

"That was so fun!" Vandehende said.

Care Flight personnel want the public to know the aircraft used for the fundraiser is a spare, so all three helicopters in Truckee, Gardnerville and Reno were in full operation Saturday.