Taking Flight and Saving Lives

By: Erin Myers Email
By: Erin Myers Email

When emergencies happen, seconds count and fast access to medical care can be critical. That's the purpose of a new helicopter air ambulance service based out of Grand Island. LifeTeam is an independent air medical transport service meant to cater to outlying communities.

"If you decide to have your life in a rural setting, or a farmer's life, you should not be penalized to have access to tertiary care," said Michael Johnson, LifeTeam Director of Program Development."

Operations begin Friday out of the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. The hangar facility is staffed 24-7 with trained flight and medical crews. Johnson says their goal is to respond in cooperation with other EMS crews on the ground.

"The EMS gets a call, we get a call in tandem. It's kind of like the Fire Department's principle: The house is on fire, they don't send just one truck to see if it's on fire. Let's get all of our apparatus going at the same time and we want to approach human lives like that as well," said Johnson.

LifeTeam had a choice of different types of helicopters but the Bell 206 Longranger won out. The FAA has deemed it the safest aircraft by their standards. LifeTeam pilot Ernesto Flores says the crews always have to be on their toes.

"Everyday is honestly a totally different experience. We have to be ready for whatever the phone brings in. Even if it's a scene call or a transfer, you have to be able to accomodate whatever the patient needs," said Flores.

Johnson says Grand Island has all the right elements to make this a successful base. The crew will monitor and respond to calls within a 90 mile radius, but Johnson says they will fly outside of that distance when necessary.

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