UNC Health Care has established Nash UNC Health Care as the permanent base site for one of its medical transport helicopters. Hospital staff celebrated the helicopter’s first landing on Thursday.
“Having the helicopter and flight crew based on our Nash campus provides time-saving advantages for our patients as well as all emergency transfer patients in eastern North Carolina,” said Ian Buchanan, interim chief executive officer at Nash UNC Health Care. “Rotating flight crews will be on campus 24/7 and prepared to transport critical-care patients between all participating hospitals in our area.”
An existing secondary landing pad has been updated on the Nash UNC Health Care campus and living accommodations have been arranged for a three-person flight crew, reported Jennifer Haynes, Program Manager for Carolina Air Care (CAC), a part of UNC Health Care. Haynes explains that the air ambulance is used for critically ill and trauma-related emergency flights.
“It is staffed with specially-trained medical flight crews and equipped with all necessary advanced technology to provide high-level medical care in flight. This helicopter will be used for hospital-to-hospital transport of a single patient, as well as for scene response to support local county emergency services operations,” she said.
The helicopter and flight crew, consisting of a pilot and specially trained Flight Nurse and Flight Paramedic, are available to transport patients to and from any hospital in our area. Carolina Air Care, in cooperation with Air Methods Corporation, operates three Airbus EC-135 Twin engine helicopters and two Bell Textron 429 twin engine helicopters. These helicopters have a cruise speed of 130-150knts depending on model, altitude and weather conditions and can transport patients to any regional tertiary care center in less than 30 minutes, according to Haynes.
Use of helicopters for transporting patients is growing. While there is some risk in all patient transfers – ground or air –- safety is always the top priority. Carolina Air Care’s helicopters are owned and operated by Air Methods, Inc., an FAA certified air carrier. All pilots are employed by Air Methods, Inc. Flight medical crew members are employed by UNC Health Care and exceed all national standards including accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).
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