Cicadas attracted to Vandy’s LifeFlight helicopters

Cicadas attracted to Vandy's LifeFlight helicopters (Image 1)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In recent weeks, LifeFlight crews have had to battle the pesky 13 year cicadas that swarm the aircraft during take off and landing.

Lis Henley is an in-flight nurse for LifeFlight. She told Nashville's News 2 the bugs immediately flock to the helicopters.

“It's just interesting how quickly they come when they hear the noise,” Henley said, adding, “The noise, it's not the lighting, so day or nighttime, it's the noise they're attracted to.”

Crews told Nashville's News 2 the cicadas don't interfere with the helicopters while they are flying, only when they are landing or taking off.

“It just depends what area you fly to, so when you go to Maury County, they come in swarms,” Henley explained.

Flight Paramedic Bo Phillips told Nashville's News 2 to help minimize the impact of the cicadas crews are doing things a little differently while on the ground.

“They wait until the last minute to open the door, so we minimize the time the aircraft is exposed,” he said.

LifeFlight crew member Keela Dement added, “After we load ourselves or the patient, we brush off so we don't carry them on our clothing on the aircraft.”

In addition to the minor adjustments, crews above all work to load the patients as quickly as possible to avoid an unsavory encounter mid-flight.

“They're a little distracting in flight,” Dement said.

Vanderbilt faculty members said they educated their crews before the cicadas emerged last month on what to expect.

The noisy insects are expected to remain in the Mid-State through the middle of June.

Related Stories:

  • June 2, 2011:  2 Vandy PhD students study 13 year cicadas
  • May 30, 2011: Cicadas could extend their stay in Mid-State
  • May 26, 2011: Noisy cicadas could cause hearing loss
  • May 23, 2011:  Too many cicadas can sicken man's best friend
  • May 11, 2011: Mid-State residents prepare to battle cicadas
  • May 10, 2011: Mid-State residents ask what to expect in cicada invasion
  • May 6, 2011: 13-year cicadas emerge in Middle Tenn.
  • March 15, 2011: 13-year cicada will soon invade Middle Tenn.
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