Vanderbilt LifeFlight, a subsidiary of Air Methods, a global leader in air medical transport, has been named the Air Medical Program of the Year by the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).
This prestigious award, sponsored by Airbus Helicopters, recognizes an air medical program that has demonstrated a superior level of patient care, management prowess and quality leadership through visionary and innovative approaches, customer service, safety consciousness, community service and commitment to the medical transport community.
The award was presented to Vanderbilt LifeFlight on Oct. 26 and recognition will be conducted during the AAMS Air Medical Transport Conference that will be held virtually Nov. 2-4.
“The AAMS Annual Awards is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the leaders in our industry,” said Cameron Curtis, AAMS president and CEO. “After careful review of all the candidates for the Program of the Year, Vanderbilt LifeFlight rose to the top in best practices for crew safety and innovative patient care during its past 36 years of operation. We are thrilled to recognize the hard work and dedication of its entire team.”
The award has been presented since 1997. While this marks the first time a Tennessee program has received the honor, it’s not the first time Vanderbilt LifeFlight has received national recognition from AAMS. In 2005, LifeFlight Executive Director, Jeanne Yeatman, received the AAMS Excellence in Transport Leadership Award and in 2003, former flight nurse Kevin High received the Crew Member of the Year award.
“Vanderbilt LifeFlight has been a world-class leader in the area of critical care transport since 1984 and has set the pace in providing innovative air medical transport services,” said Jeanne Yeatman, MBA, RN, BSN, EMT, MOM, interim chief nursing officer at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital and associate chief nursing officer, executive director of Vanderbilt LifeFlight. “On behalf of our more than 300 employees, I am honored and humbled to accept the 2020 AAMS Program of the Year award. The award is a reflection of our commitment to our hard-working employees, their safety and patient care.”
Vanderbilt LifeFlight is operated by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in partnership with Air Methods.
“Air Methods is proud of our strong relationship with such a respected partner as Vanderbilt Medical Center to provide emergency air medical services through Vanderbilt LifeFlight,” said JaeLynn Williams, CEO, Air Methods Corporation. “It is the combination of Vanderbilt’s clinical expertise and Air Methods’ aviation excellence that will allow the program to continue to lead the air medical industry and we look forward to many more years serving communities throughout the state of Tennessee. Vanderbilt LifeFlight is well deserving of being named the 2020 AMTC Program of the Year.”
A focus on patient care, crew safety, utilization of a just culture and an exceptional outreach and community education program are among the factors that helped an independent panel of judges from the air medical industry to give the award to Vanderbilt LifeFlight. Since 1984 Vanderbilt LifeFlight has been the critical care transport service of VUMC. LifeFlight is an essential part of VUMC that combines a communications center, rotor, fixed, ground, critical care ground and event medicine that make it part of a true integrated health care delivery system.
LifeFlight is a leader in educational outreach and in 2019 the program made more than 4,000 outreach visits, traveled more than 52,000 miles returning some 3,500 spine boards and other equipment to EMS agencies and trained more than 3,900 providers with a variety of EMS related courses. LifeFlight has eight community-based helicopters in Gallatin, Tullahoma, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Humboldt, and Cookeville. LifeFlight also operates an airplane base at Nashville International Airport and 14 ALS ground ambulances, critical care ambulances, and communications and event medicine divisions.
“LifeFlight’s strength is its culture; from the first day of service on July 1, 1984, the mantra of ‘safety is our number one product’ has been at the cornerstone of every decision and practice the program has ever made,” said Kevin Nooner, MSN, RN, NE-BC, air medical program director. “This phrase was coined by the program’s founder, Dr. John Morris, and has been the bedrock of the program.”
LifeFlight was the first civilian air medical entity to purchase the Airbus EC 145 with IFR capability in the United States; a significant investment in safety for the program. LifeFlight was the first air medical program in Tennessee to achieve CAMTS accreditation in 2006 and used this as a springboard to bolster safety training and just culture.
In 2015, VUMC partnered with Air Methods to provide aviation, fuel, maintenance, aircraft, dispatch, billing and EMS licensure. VUMC provides all medical staffing, patient care and clinical services for Vanderbilt LifeFlight.
“The move gave the hospital greater financial security and at the same time allowed for the expansion of both the Vanderbilt care and the LifeFlight brand,” said Stephan Russ, MD, associate chief of staff for VUMC and executive medical director for Vanderbilt LifeFlight. “From a financial perspective, Vanderbilt has been able to dramatically grow its ground EMS program and place a greater financial emphasis on that, which it would not have been able to do if it had to continue to strictly focus on air, due to the capital expense and limited amount of capital available.”
The ground division, under the direction of Michael Wallace, MBA, CCPM, NRP, encompasses Wheelchair Van, ALS, BLS and Critical Care Ground Transport, Event Medicine, Emergency Communications and Transport Coordination.
“The ground program not only gives us critical care transport options when the aircraft can’t fly due to weather, it rounds out a highly specialized 360-degree EMS system that allows us to meet the comprehensive needs of the community and the patients we have the privilege to serve,” Wallace said.
Since 1984 Vanderbilt LifeFlight, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Trauma Systems (CAMTS), has flown more than 40,000 patients.
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