Good Samaritan AirCare Flying Faster, Farther

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Being in an accident in central Nebraska can mean a long ride to a hospital, but Good Samaritan AirCare and Rodgers Helicopter Services say their new Bell 429 will help them make medical transport even faster.

"Otherwise we're doing ground transport - a helicopter such as this takes one third of the time to get people from where they're at, whether it be a scene or it be a sending hospital to a receiving tertiary facility," says Chief Flight Nurse Doug Wulf.

Wulf says about 60% of their missions end at Good Samaritan Hospital, but they serve all of central Nebraska and some of northern Kansas, so they can sometimes fly as far as Kansas City and Denver.

He says the Bell 429 also makes taking two patients much easier than it is now with their aging Sikorsky S-76A++.

"Currently we have to know ahead of time that we're going to do that, to bring that extra equipment," says Wulf. "Now if we land at the scene of an accident and EMS on scene makes the realization that we really have two critical patients and not just the one they called for, we're able to take both of them with us."

The new helicopter means not only improved patient efficiency, but every time it takes off it's saving on fuel and maintenance too.

"The less fuel, the less money you're spending," says Rodgers' Director of Operations Ed Spillman. "[Jet fuel] has gotten expensive and so it just makes it more economical for us."

Spillman says the Bell 429 is lighter and burns about 77 gallons of fuel per hour compared to the 100 gallons per hour they're using up now.

He says it was developed under a different maintenance program that lets them have less down time too.

"Makes it a little bit more affordable for us and hopefully that translates into what we're doing for the rest of health care," says Wulf.

Officials say the Bell 429 should be in service in the next couple of weeks.

The community has a chance to see the new helicopter on Thursday, November 8 at Good Samaritan. The Bell 429 will be on display from 4-6 p.m. at it's temporary landing pad in the parking lot north of 33rd Street and west of the hospital's North Annex.