June 6, 2003

LifeFlight becomes exclusive partner with TriStar

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Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight helicopter will become a much more familiar sight at TriStar Health System hospitals in middle Tennessee following the completion of an agreement for the air ambulance to provide exclusive services for those hospitals. (photo by Anne Rayner Pollo)

LifeFlight becomes exclusive partner with TriStar

TriStar Health System has signed an agreement with Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s LifeFlight helicopter program to be TriStar’s exclusive provider of air ambulance services for critical care patient transfers.

“TriStar Health System is noted for its rigorous evaluation of programs that affect the quality and safety of patient care,” said Dr. John A. Morris Jr., director of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at VUMC. “We’re pleased that our flight program meets their high standards, which reflect and recognize the importance of aircraft safety and medical competence.”

Morris serves as LifeFlight’s medical director and has overseen the air ambulance program’s growth since its inception in 1984.

“Our hospitals pride themselves on providing the best quality of care to our patients,” said Micki Slingerland, chief financial officer at Centennial Medical Center. “We feel this partnership will enhance the services we can provide.”

Hospitals included in the partnership include Centennial Medical Center, Centennial Medical Center at Ashland City, Skyline Medical Center, Southern Hills Medical Center, Summit Medical Center, and Women’s Hospital at Centennial in Nashville along with Hendersonville Medical Center in Hendersonville, Horizon Medical Center in Dickson, NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield, River Park Medical Center in McMinnville, and StoneCrest Medical Center in Smyrna.

LifeFlight nurses have an average of 10 years of experience in a tertiary care hospital providing emergency and/or critical care, and are also required to be licensed emergency medical technicians. Training for LifeFlight nurses is competency-based, and includes a quarterly surgical skills lab where invasive procedures such as chest tube placement and femoral line insertion are taught.

“The medical skill set that our flight nurses offer is reinforced continuously by aggressive medical direction,” Morris said. “The safety of the flight is enhanced by the twin engine aircraft. It’s these two areas which set us far apart from other air ambulance providers.”

Vanderbilt LifeFlight averages more than 1,800 emergency patient transports each year, and has safely completed more than 20,000 flights in its 18-year-history.

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.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight utilizes three American Eurocopter BK-117 twin-engine helicopters. LifeFlight I is based at Vanderbilt Medical Center's rooftop Skyport, LifeFlight II is based at Bedford County Medical Center in Shelbyville, Tennessee and LifeFlight III is based at Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville, Tennessee.

LifeFlight's aircraft, pilots, and mechanics are provided under contract from Air Methods Corporation from Denver, Colo.

TriStar Health System has more than 63,500 admissions and more than 256,000 emergency room visits per year system-wide.