Henry Ford Hospital introduced today the Air Med 1 aeromedical helicopter as a new service for transporting critically ill and trauma patients to its facility from within a 150-mile radius in Michigan and Ontario.
With demand growing for caring for critically ill patients, the air ambulance service positions
Henry Ford to provide fast, emergency one-way transport to its medical complex, which boasts the largest intensive care capacity in Michigan and a Level 1 trauma center for treating the most critically injured patients.
The helicopter is a new addition to a fleet of ground ambulances that transport patients
to the hospital and other Henry Ford facilities under partnership with Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service of Michigan that began in 2005. The Air Med 1 service begins Oct. 1.
Henry Ford is the only hospital in the tri-county area equipped to provide air ambulance transport service.
“Adding air ambulance service to our patient transport fleet is a natural progression of our partnership with Superior Ambulance,” says John Popovich, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Henry Ford Hospital and a nationally respected pulmonary disease and internal medicine specialist.
“This service extends our reach for helping patients in other parts of the state who require complex medical care. We have the medical expertise and ICU capacity that others don’t to handle these types of cases.”
To ensure a seamless patient transport, each flight is coordinated by a Henry Ford transfer nurse and staff physician, the patient’s referring physician and a Superior Ambulance coordinator. The Air Med 1 flight crew includes a critical care RN, critical care paramedic and pilot. No Henry Ford medical personnel are involved in in-flight transports.
Pat Patton, M.D., division head of Trauma and Critical Care Surgery at Henry Ford, says the hospital projects to add more than 100 patient referrals by air ambulance in the first year.
“We hope we can streamline the patient transport process from one institution to another,”
Dr. Patton says. “Especially in trauma situations where speed is important, an air ambulance will significantly reduce the time of getting the patient here for care.”
The Air Med 1 boasts numerous safety features including auto pilot controls, traffic-collision avoidance and terrain avoidance systems, night vision goggles to scan for obstacles and landing zones, and a wire strike kit in the event the aircraft strikes wires during flight. It also has satellite and weather radar and a satellite phone. The Air Med 1 will be housed at the Oakland International Airport in Pontiac.
Flight crews are certified in critical care emergency medical transport and emergency vehicle operations, and undergo mandatory training in pharmacology, and managing intravenous medication delivery.
Mary Franco, vice president of Business Development at Superior, says its pilots have vast experience flying in Michigan, Ohio and Windsor. Its pilots, not Superior ground personnel, make all flight decisions, she says.
“We believe we’re ahead of others in equipping our aircraft with the latest available safety equipment,” Franco says, adding that Superior has flown nearly 700 flights without incident. “Protecting our flight crews and the patients they are transporting is paramount to our operations and to our business partners.”
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