January 23, 2004

LifeFlight’s new yellow phones provide ‘hotline’ for area hospitals, EMS

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Susie Martin, an emergency medical technician with Trousdale County EMS, places a call to Vanderbilt LifeFlight on one of its 50 new bright yellow direct access lines. Callers simply lift the receiver and are immediately connected to the emergency communications center at LifeFlight. Courtesy Trousdale County EMS

LifeFlight’s new yellow phones provide ‘hotline’ for area hospitals, EMS

Much like the direct line the police commissioner had with Batman in the TV series “Batman,” area hospitals and emergency agencies now have a direct hotline to Vanderbilt, providing quick and clear access for requesting emergency transportation services from Vanderbilt.

The brainchild of Flight nurse Ty Huff, bright yellow standard sized desktop/wall telephones immediately connect with the LifeFlight Emergency Communications Center as soon as the handset is lifted.

Phones have been placed in 50 locations in Tennessee and Kentucky including area hospitals, 911 centers, and emergency medical services agencies. There is no dialing or having to remember cumbersome phone numbers.

Huff has been at Vanderbilt for a year, moving here from a flight program in Georgia. Yeatman said he developed the idea for the program and staff has spent the last six months installing phones.

“We’ve had such a positive reaction from everyone,” explained Jeanne Yeatman, LifeFlight program director. “The phones directly enhance communications, and make it very easy for people to get in touch with us.”

The program has been such a positive success that LifeFlight will soon be adding yellow phones in the Vanderbilt Emergency Department and Trauma Center, so that family members can check with LifeFlight crew members about loved ones who have been flown to Vanderbilt via LifeFlight.

“This is just another way that we try to reach out to families and help them cope during a very stressful time in their life,” Yeatman said. “And it came as a result from feedback from the families who wanted a quick and easy way to talk with LifeFlight.”

Vanderbilt currently provides several means of emergency transportation, including helicopter, airplane and ground ambulance.

At night and on weekends, LifeFlight’s Emergency Communications Center handles all calls from other facilities requesting transfers. The new phones provide an instant hotline for physicians and nurses making transfer arrangements, regardless of the mode of transportation to Vanderbilt.

The special phones can also be used by hospitals to request interfacility transfers by helicopter to any of the major Nashville hospitals, not just Vanderbilt.

If Vanderbilt resources are unable to make the emergency transports, VUMC emergency communicators will arrange for another agency to help with the request, making the service a “one call does it all” Yeatman said.