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LifeFlight to open emergency helicopter base in Cookeville

Apr. 28, 2016, 11:21 AM

(photo by Warner Riker)

In partnership with Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Vanderbilt LifeFlight will soon be expanding its footprint to serve the Upper Cumberland region by adding an emergency helicopter base in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) CEO Paul Korth said the addition of the helicopter is a “win-win” for everyone, including CRMC patients in the Upper Cumberland region.

“Our partnership with Vanderbilt continues to grow since we affiliated with them four years ago,” Korth said. “We affiliated so that we could expand access to health services and resources for our region, and this project is just another example of how our facilities can work together for the benefit of the Upper Cumberland. It’s a win-win for Vanderbilt, CRMC and our patients.”

CRMC is a national award-winning, state-of-the-art regional medical center that serves the 14-county Upper Cumberland region. Services offered include interventional cardiology, cardiovascular/thoracic surgery, robotic surgery, neurosurgery, critical care and complex cancer treatment.

The helicopter will have a 120-mile response area from Cookeville, and it will transport patients who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region back to CRMC.

Sullivan Smith, M.D., CRMC Emergency Department Medical Director said the placement of the helicopter in Cookeville is a natural “next-step” in the Vanderbilt/CRMC relationship.

“As Vanderbilt and CRMC become closer partners in patient care, Vanderbilt’s opening of an emergency helicopter base in Cookeville is a logical next step for us as we work to improve patient care together,” Smith said. “The addition of the LifeFlight base here in Cookeville provides an extension of the relationship and developing network between our hospitals. The primary purpose of the Cookeville LifeFlight base will be to bring patients from the Upper Cumberland who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region to CRMC. It will, of course, also be available to meet other calls for aeromedical services which may arise.”

Stephan Russ, M.D., associate professor of Emergency Medicine at VUMC and associate chief of staff for Vanderbilt University Hospital, praised the support received from CRMC officials in establishing the new base.

“We look forward to continuing Vanderbilt LifeFlight’s commitment to excellence in education, patient care and patient safety with our hospital, EMS and 911 colleagues throughout the Upper Cumberland region” Russ added. “For more than 32 years Vanderbilt LifeFlight has been delivering industry-leading medical care as a community asset, and we trust that our expansion into Cookeville will strengthen the access, reach and viability of the program for many more years to come.”
A site for the new base, which is expected to open this summer, will be announced at a later date.

Since 1984 Vanderbilt LifeFlight, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Trauma Systems (CAMTS), has flown more than 38,000 patients.  LifeFlight transports to any medically appropriate hospital and has immediate access to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, Burn Center and Children’s Hospital, all at VUMC.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight provides hospital-based emergency air medical transport services throughout Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, with remote helicopter bases in Lebanon, Tullahoma, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Mt. Pleasant and Henry County, Tenn. LifeFlight also operates an airplane base at Nashville International Airport and has five ground ambulances as well as an event medicine division.

Air Methods Corporation provides aviation, fuel, maintenance, aircraft, dispatch, billing and EMS licensure while VUMC provides all medical staffing, patient care and clinical services for Vanderbilt LifeFlight.

Air Methods Corporation ( is the global leader in air medical transportation. The Air Medical Services Division is the largest provider of air medical transport services in the United States. The United Rotorcraft Division specializes in the design and manufacture of aeromedical and aerospace technology. The Tourism Division is comprised of Sundance Helicopters, Inc. and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, which provide helicopter tours and charter flights in the Las Vegas/Grand Canyon region and Hawaii, respectively. Air Methods’ fleet of owned, leased or maintained aircraft features over 450 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Serving the area since 1950, Cookeville Regional Medical Center has grown to be the region’s health care provider of choice and is the flagship hospital for the Cookeville Regional Health System that also includes Cumberland River Hospital and Cookeville Regional Medical Group. Cookeville Regional Medical Center is a progressive 247-bed regional referral center serving more than 350,000 residents in the Upper Cumberland region of middle Tennessee.  With over 200 physicians in 40 different medical and surgical specialties, Cookeville Regional offers patients here the same kind of care that they could expect in a larger metropolitan area including specialty care such as cardiology, electrophysiology, cardiac and thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, pulmonology, cancer treatment, orthopedics, physical rehabilitation and neurosurgery. Cookeville Regional has been named one of the 100 Great Community Hospitals by Becker’s Hospital Review two years in a row.

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