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LifeFlight adds cars to community bases to assist local EMS agencies

Sep. 6, 2012, 10:05 AM

LifeFlight is adding Critical Care Response cars at each of the LifeFlight helicopter community bases to assist with ground transportation in case of adverse weather. (photo by Tony Smith)

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is adding a new response vehicle to its fleet, one that will assist local emergency service agencies on days that the helicopter can’t fly due to unfavorable weather conditions.

A “Critical Care Response” car will be placed at each of the five LifeFlight helicopter community bases for the critical care medical teams to meet local EMS teams and assist transport by ground ambulance on missions that can’t be completed by air due to weather conditions. The cars are former Vanderbilt University Police Department patrol vehicles.

The LifeFlight medical crew will have all of the medical equipment and supplies that are normally available on the helicopter, including lifesaving blood.

Weather has a significant impact on LifeFlight’s ability to fly — in 2011 more than 1,300 missions were turned down due to poor weather conditions. LifeFlight has always offered its medical teams to help local EMS agencies on transports, however that was often a logistical challenge since the EMS agency had to pick up the teams at the local LifeFlight base.

“We recognized a need to assist local EMS agencies with those very, very critical patients,” said Lis Henley, RN, EMT, interim program director for Vanderbilt LifeFlight. “An EMS director approached us with this idea, and with the support of the Vanderbilt Police Department, we were able to implement it.”

The first of these vehicles has been placed at LifeFlight 2 at the Tullahoma Airport.

The car, CCR 2, made its first mission within hours of being in service – the LifeFlight 2 crew responded to Harton Regional Medical Center to meet Coffee County EMS for a ground critical care transfer to Nashville.

Lincoln Medical Center EMS in Fayetteville, Tenn., more than 85 miles from Nashville, is one of the EMS agencies that is looking forward to having the LifeFlight medical crews available for their assistance.

“We are very excited about being able to partner with Vanderbilt LifeFlight for our critical ground transports when flying is not an option due to weather,” said Richard Wright, director of Lincoln Medical Center EMS.

Cars will also be placed at LifeFlight bases in Lebanon, Smyrna, Mt. Pleasant and Clarksville.

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