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Vanderbilt integrates, expands transportation services to Lebanon Purchases three state-of-the-art helicopters

Mar. 26, 2004, 11:24 AM

Vanderbilt integrates, expands transportation services to Lebanon Purchases three state-of-the-art helicopters

Nashville (Tenn.) – Vanderbilt Medical Center will expand its LifeFlight helicopter air ambulance program by adding a base in Lebanon, Tennessee, and purchasing three new state-of-the-art helicopters at a cost of $5.4 million each.

The move comes as part of LifeFlight’s strategic plan to provide fully integrated patient transportation services including fixed-wing (airplane), helicopter, and critical care ground transportation along with a coordinated Emergency Communications Center.

"Vanderbilt now provides a sophisticated integrated transportation system where we use the right vehicle, for the right patient at the right time," explained Dr. John A. Morris, Jr., professor of Surgery and director of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Vanderbilt. Morris serves as LifeFlight’s medical director and has overseen the air ambulance program since it’s inception in 1984.

Morris says by offering a network of transportation services, combined with the coordinated Emergency Communications Center, allows Vanderbilt LifeFlight nurses the ability to tap into the vast expertise of Vanderbilt Medical Center at a moment’s notice.

The emergency transportation network includes Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Neonatal Angel Ambulance; a fixed-wing airplane (propeller or Lear jet), capable of making long distance patient transports (from almost anywhere in the world) and the three LifeFlight helicopters.

The Emergency Communications Center, managed by Jeff Gray, is located on the SkyPort atop Vanderbilt University Hospital. The Emergency Communications Center is staffed 24-hours-a-day by three emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics who coordinate all patient transportation efforts.

"The Center is the heart of our transportation system," Gray said. "LifeFlight communicators track all aircraft and ground ambulances by global positioning devices (GPS), answer all incoming ambulance traffic for the adult and children’s emergency departments, coordinate online medical control and dispatch trauma alerts."

From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day the Communications Center serves as Vanderbilt’s "transfer" center, answering calls from all medical facilities requesting permission to transfer a patient to Vanderbilt. Communicators coordinate and facilitate patient transfers, insure bed availability, notify an accepting physician, and provide proper transportation.

The fixed-wing aircraft, based at the Cornelia Fort Airpark (near Opry Mills), utilizes either a propeller airplane (a Beechcraft King Air E90) or an internationally configured Lear jet. The fixed-wing program has made more than 130 flights since it began eight months ago, including flights to Cairo, Egypt and Mexico City, Mexico. LifeFlight Nurse Chris Rediker manages the fixed-wing program.

LifeFlight has converted one of the neonatal Angel ambulances for use with pediatric and adult patients as well. This ambulance is used to transport patients to and from the airport where the fixed-wing is based.

The new Lebanon LifeFlight base, to be located at the Lebanon Municipal Airport, is pending final approval from Lebanon City officials. LifeFlight officials say one of the helicopters, previously based at Vanderbilt Hospital, will relocate from Nashville to Lebanon as part of the evolving strategic transportation plan. LifeFlight nurse Mark Tankersley will manage the new Lebanon base.

"This configuration enhances our response to all areas in Nashville, and outside of Nashville," Morris said. "It allows us to provide the right level of transportation when needed."

"I can’t give enough praise to Lebanon Mayor Don Fox, the Lebanon City Council, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines, City Engineer Jody Vance and the administrative staff at University Medical Center Lebanon," said LifeFlight’s program director Jeanne Yeatman.

Yeatman said she worked closely with the administration at University Medical Center Lebanon and Wilson County’s Emergency Management Agency to ensure support, and praised their efforts as well.

LifeFlight also has helicopters currently based in Shelbyville, Tennessee, at Bedford County Medical Center, and Clarksville, Tennessee, at Gateway Medical Center.

The VUMC Board of Directors recently approved the purchase of three new helicopters at a cost of $5.4 million each. The new helicopters, American Eurocopter EC-145’s, will go to Lebanon, Clarksville, and Shelbyville.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is the first hospital based air ambulance program in North America to utilize the American Eurocopter EC-145 ñ which has been used extensively in Europe, called by aircraft industry experts as one of the safest, state-of-the-art helicopters on the market.

The EC-145 replaces Vanderbilt’s faithful BK-117’s, which has been the program’s aircraft of choice since 1987. LifeFlight has safely completed more than 20,000 flights in its 18-year history and continues to emphasize safety as its highest goal.

"Safety is our first Mission," Morris said. "The new EC-145 provides an enhanced safety margin due to its Category-A certification."

An aircraft receiving a "Category-A" certification means it can land or take off on steep terrain if the aircraft suffers from a single engine failure.

The new twin-engine helicopters, all equipped with IFR (Instrument Flight Rated) capability, allow pilots to fly in inclement weather; are cockpit readied for the use of night vision goggles; have the ability to shutdown the engines in 30 seconds; redundant fuel, lubrication, hydraulics and electrical systems; advanced technical rotor blades that are quieter and provide for increased range.

The new EC-145’s have a mission endurance of 3 hours 25 minutes with a 30-minute fuel reserve. The cruising speed is 150 mph, compared to the current LifeFlight cruising speed of 130 mph. The new aircraft will have substantially increased cabin room and a substantial increase in flight range.

"The EC-145’s increased range will allow LifeFlight to increase the number of communities it serves, and the EC-145 will provide our medical crews with increased pay load and clinical space, and our patients with better care," Morris explained. "Vanderbilt’s commitment to the highest standards of medical transport are exemplified by this commitment of capital which further distances us from the services of our for profit competitors"

LifeFlight is the only local air ambulance program that carries life-saving blood products on every flight. LifeFlight’s staff and Vanderbilt physicians meet biweekly to review procedures to ensure patient care meets or exceeds national standards.

"LifeFlight has become a reference in the U.S. for emergency care operations with its BK-117s, and the decision to be a repeat customer by selecting EC-145s is an important endorsement for Eurocopter," said American Eurocopter President & CEO Marc Paganini.

The LifeFlight helicopter program is the exclusive provider of air ambulance services for critical care patient transfers for TriStar Health Systems.

(Attached art shows counties where LifeFlight has bases located. The helicopter shown is a drawing of what the new helicopter (EC-145) will look like. Art by Matt Gore, Vanderbilt Medical Art Group)

Vanderbilt integrates, expands transportation services to Lebanon Purchases three state-of-the-art helicopters

Nashville (Tenn.) – Vanderbilt Medical Center will expand its LifeFlight helicopter air ambulance program by adding a base in Lebanon, Tennessee, and purchasing three new state-of-the-art helicopters at a cost of $5.4 million each.

The move comes as part of LifeFlight’s strategic plan to provide fully integrated patient transportation services including fixed-wing (airplane), helicopter, and critical care ground transportation along with a coordinated Emergency Communications Center.

"Vanderbilt now provides a sophisticated integrated transportation system where we use the right vehicle, for the right patient at the right time," explained Dr. John A. Morris, Jr., professor of Surgery and director of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Vanderbilt. Morris serves as LifeFlight’s medical director and has overseen the air ambulance program since it’s inception in 1984.

Morris says by offering a network of transportation services, combined with the coordinated Emergency Communications Center, allows Vanderbilt LifeFlight nurses the ability to tap into the vast expertise of Vanderbilt Medical Center at a moment’s notice.

The emergency transportation network includes Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Neonatal Angel Ambulance; a fixed-wing airplane (propeller or Lear jet), capable of making long distance patient transports (from almost anywhere in the world) and the three LifeFlight helicopters.

The Emergency Communications Center, managed by Jeff Gray, is located on the SkyPort atop Vanderbilt University Hospital. The Emergency Communications Center is staffed 24-hours-a-day by three emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics who coordinate all patient transportation efforts.

"The Center is the heart of our transportation system," Gray said. "LifeFlight communicators track all aircraft and ground ambulances by global positioning devices (GPS), answer all incoming ambulance traffic for the adult and children’s emergency departments, coordinate online medical control and dispatch trauma alerts."

From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day the Communications Center serves as Vanderbilt’s "transfer" center, answering calls from all medical facilities requesting permission to transfer a patient to Vanderbilt. Communicators coordinate and facilitate patient transfers, insure bed availability, notify an accepting physician, and provide proper transportation.

The fixed-wing aircraft, based at the Cornelia Fort Airpark (near Opry Mills), utilizes either a propeller airplane (a Beechcraft King Air E90) or an internationally configured Lear jet. The fixed-wing program has made more than 130 flights since it began eight months ago, including flights to Cairo, Egypt and Mexico City, Mexico. LifeFlight Nurse Chris Rediker manages the fixed-wing program.

LifeFlight has converted one of the neonatal Angel ambulances for use with pediatric and adult patients as well. This ambulance is used to transport patients to and from the airport where the fixed-wing is based.

The new Lebanon LifeFlight base, to be located at the Lebanon Municipal Airport, is pending final approval from Lebanon City officials. LifeFlight officials say one of the helicopters, previously based at Vanderbilt Hospital, will relocate from Nashville to Lebanon as part of the evolving strategic transportation plan. LifeFlight nurse Mark Tankersley will manage the new Lebanon base.

"This configuration enhances our response to all areas in Nashville, and outside of Nashville," Morris said. "It allows us to provide the right level of transportation when needed."

"I can’t give enough praise to Lebanon Mayor Don Fox, the Lebanon City Council, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines, City Engineer Jody Vance and the administrative staff at University Medical Center Lebanon," said LifeFlight’s program director Jeanne Yeatman.

Yeatman said she worked closely with the administration at University Medical Center Lebanon and Wilson County’s Emergency Management Agency to ensure support, and praised their efforts as well.

LifeFlight also has helicopters currently based in Shelbyville, Tennessee, at Bedford County Medical Center, and Clarksville, Tennessee, at Gateway Medical Center.

The VUMC Board of Directors recently approved the purchase of three new helicopters at a cost of $5.4 million each. The new helicopters, American Eurocopter EC-145’s, will go to Lebanon, Clarksville, and Shelbyville.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is the first hospital based air ambulance program in North America to utilize the American Eurocopter EC-145 ñ which has been used extensively in Europe, called by aircraft industry experts as one of the safest, state-of-the-art helicopters on the market.

The EC-145 replaces Vanderbilt’s faithful BK-117’s, which has been the program’s aircraft of choice since 1987. LifeFlight has safely completed more than 20,000 flights in its 18-year history and continues to emphasize safety as its highest goal.

"Safety is our first Mission," Morris said. "The new EC-145 provides an enhanced safety margin due to its Category-A certification."

An aircraft receiving a "Category-A" certification means it can land or take off on steep terrain if the aircraft suffers from a single engine failure.

The new twin-engine helicopters, all equipped with IFR (Instrument Flight Rated) capability, allow pilots to fly in inclement weather; are cockpit readied for the use of night vision goggles; have the ability to shutdown the engines in 30 seconds; redundant fuel, lubrication, hydraulics and electrical systems; advanced technical rotor blades that are quieter and provide for increased range.

The new EC-145’s have a mission endurance of 3 hours 25 minutes with a 30-minute fuel reserve. The cruising speed is 150 mph, compared to the current LifeFlight cruising speed of 130 mph. The new aircraft will have substantially increased cabin room and a substantial increase in flight range.

"The EC-145’s increased range will allow LifeFlight to increase the number of communities it serves, and the EC-145 will provide our medical crews with increased pay load and clinical space, and our patients with better care," Morris explained. "Vanderbilt’s commitment to the highest standards of medical transport are exemplified by this commitment of capital which further distances us from the services of our for profit competitors"

LifeFlight is the only local air ambulance program that carries life-saving blood products on every flight. LifeFlight’s staff and Vanderbilt physicians meet biweekly to review procedures to ensure patient care meets or exceeds national standards.

"LifeFlight has become a reference in the U.S. for emergency care operations with its BK-117s, and the decision to be a repeat customer by selecting EC-145s is an important endorsement for Eurocopter," said American Eurocopter President & CEO Marc Paganini.

The LifeFlight helicopter program is the exclusive provider of air ambulance services for critical care patient transfers for TriStar Health Systems.

Contact:

John Howser, 615-322-4747 (john.howser@vanderbilt.edu)

Jerry Jones, 615-322-4747 (jerry.jones@vanderbilt.edu)

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