In an effort to improve access to care for victims of traumatic injuries and critical illnesses, LifeNet announced the start of its Hot Springs, Arkansas based helicopter service today.
Company officials announced that its newest base, located at the airport in Hot Springs, has been authorized by the State Department of Health EMS Section to begin operations.
The helicopter is a Bell 407 from Air Methods, the global leader in air medical transportation. Air Methods is the only air medical operation in the nation to reach the highest level (Level 4) of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) voluntary Safety Management System (SMS) program.
The four-bladed Bell 407 helicopter is one of the fastest helicopters available in the area.
“With a cruising speed of 135 knots and an operational range of approximately 150 miles, this helicopter can get patients to definitive care in a fraction of the time it would take to transport them by ground ambulance without the need to refuel,” said Jason Gartner, General Manager of LifeNet EMS in Hot Springs.
The aircraft has been designed to carry patients that are critically ill, including patients with special needs. Additionally, the aircraft has some increased safety features such as night vision goggles, terrain avoidance system, and real-time weather radar information to help keep the crews and patients safe during flight operations.
Although the helicopter program is new, the crew is very experienced.
“LifeNet takes pride in providing clinically excellent care by having state-of-the-art equipment, sophisticated medical protocols, and well trained staff. This flight team is comprised of some of the highest trained staff we have,” said Gartner.
The medical crew is comprised of 3 full-time nurses and three full-time paramedics. All three of the nurses have flown helicopter EMS missions previously at LifeNet’s Texarkana base and the medics have an average of 20 years of experience.
“Combined, the medical crew has 125 years of medical experience,” said Gartner. “Each of the medical crew received additional training including flight physiology, situational awareness, meteorology, and federal aviation regulations.”
The three pilots and two mechanics also have impressive professional credentials.
“The pilots have an average experience of 23 years and all three have been pilots in the military,” Gartner said. “Two have been pilots for the Arkansas National Guard. All combined, the pilots have over 14,000 flight hours logged.”
The mechanics have a combined experience of 34 years of aviation maintenance experience.
“We are excited to be providing service in this area,” Gartner said. “We have taken the time to partner with a premium aircraft partner with a superior safety record and selected the very best clinical talent we have. I’m confident that because of these facts, we will quickly establish a reputation for being one of the safest and clinically skilled flight teams in the area.”
LifeNet is a not-for-profit ground and air ambulance agency that serves Garland County as well as other counties in southwest Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.