June 24, 2005

LifeFlight celebrates 20 years of service

Featured Image

John Morris, M.D., left, talks with Joseph Ross, M.D., next to the LifeFlight helicopter on hand at the event celebrating 20 years of the LifeFlight program. The event was held at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Monday night.
photo by Dana Johnson

LifeFlight celebrates 20 years of service

Gray Pickney, left, and his brother Cole talk with flight nurse Chris Rediker at the Vanderbilt LifeFlight celebration. The Pickney’s father, Michael, was a patient on LifeFlight and the family was featured during the program. 
photo by Dana Johnson

Gray Pickney, left, and his brother Cole talk with flight nurse Chris Rediker at the Vanderbilt LifeFlight celebration. The Pickney’s father, Michael, was a patient on LifeFlight and the family was featured during the program.
photo by Dana Johnson

Jeanne Yeatman, right, program director for LifeFlight, shares a laugh with attendees of the Vanderbilt LifeFlight 20 year celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Monday night. 
photo by Dana Johnson

Jeanne Yeatman, right, program director for LifeFlight, shares a laugh with attendees of the Vanderbilt LifeFlight 20 year celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Monday night.
photo by Dana Johnson

LifeFlight ended its year-long celebration of 20 years of service to the community with a gala at the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.

More then 300 people attended the event, which honored Joseph C. Ross, M.D., who, along with John A. Morris Jr., M.D., professor of Surgery and director of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, was one of the founders of the LifeFlight program.

“LifeFlight had its inaugural flight more than 20 years ago — actually 20 years, 11 months ago,” said Harry R. Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “That first flight was a culmination of years of planning and careful orchestration that built a solid network of emergency services throughout Middle Tennessee. LifeFlight is the bridge that ties our region's emergency services network to talented and uncommonly dedicated physicians and nurses and staff of Vanderbilt Trauma.”

In the past 20 years, the air ambulance program has transported more than 30,000 patients and grown from a single helicopter to a fleet of five of the most advanced twin-engine helicopters, one airplane, critical care ground transportation, neonatal care and state-of-the-art transportation and emergency communications.

LifeFlight has helicopter bases in Lebanon, Tullahoma, Mt. Pleasant (Columbia) and Clarksville. LifeFlight serves all local hospitals and is the exclusive provider of air ambulance services for critical care patient transfers for TriStar Health Systems.

Ross, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs, Emeritus, was named as the first recipient of the Joseph C. Ross Community Award.

“Many people worked with us to establish the LifeFlight program,” he said at the event. “We had a lot of help.”

Morris praised Ross for his “incredible vision, skill and diplomacy” and noted that the first patient transported by LifeFlight was Ross's mother.

Three families, each touched by LifeFlight, were also honored at the dinner.

• Jacqui McDaniel, who was injured in a scooter accident in Rutherford County. She wasn't wearing a helmet and hit a tree. She was flown by LifeFlight from the scene of the accident with head injuries and a leg injury, has been through rehab and recently went through additional surgery on her leg. She is the daughter of Don and Susan McDaniel.

• Barrett Harris, an infant in respiratory distress, was transported by LifeFlight from Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville. Once she arrived at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She is doing well now. She is the daughter of Neal and Audrea Harris.

• Teresa Pickney, wife of Michael Pickney, who along with his company partners, died in a plane crash. Michael Pickney survived for a few hours after the crash and was transported to Vanderbilt by LifeFlight. Teresa has five children, the oldest of whom is a student at Vanderbilt.

“When you hear the roar of those rotor blades overhead, I want you to remember two things,” Jacobson told the audience. “First, that a life hangs in the balance, and second, that that life is in the hands of the most expert and skilled team on earth.”

The dinner was chaired by Mary and Lee Barfield, and sponsored by Air Methods, Bank of America, Covenant Capital Group, LLC., Gateway Medical Center, Investment Scorecard Inc., J. Alexander's Corp., Nashville Post Co. Inc., Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc., Saint Thomas Hospital, Solidus Co., Southwest Airlines, Tennessee Donor Services, Tennessee HealthSpring, U.S. Bank, WSMV-Channel 4 and WTVF-NewsChannel 5.