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Flight for Life - Lifeguard 4

Flight for Life CrewFlight For Life Colorado is the best part of your worst day.

Lifeguard 4 - the helicopter based at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center - has provided a valuable air ambulance service for southern Colorado communities since 2004 as part of the Flight For Life Colorado fleet.  Flight For Life makes the transfer of critically ill and injured patients much more time efficient than ground travel. Flight For Life combines the rapid transportation, medical expertise and modern technology needed to make every minute count in an emergency.  Available 24 hours, the program has significantly cultivated rural healthcare partnerships throughout the region by providing lifesaving transport for rural patients whenever and wherever it is needed. St. Mary-Corwin sincerely extends its thanks to the crew of Lifeguard 4 for their incredible service to our hospital, and our communities.

Providing service for southern Colorado and neighboring states

Flight For Life provides a valuable air ambulance, life-saving service to the many communities we serve.  It provides helicopter service within a 120-mile radius of its base at St. Mary-Corwin, including many high-altitude and rugged rescue locations. The Eurocopter AStar B3 has a cruising speed of 140 miles per hour, and can deliver critical care services to critically ill and injured patients at scenes and at healthcare facilities in remote locations.

Crew and credentials

The crew aboard Lifeguard 4 consists of a pilot, flight nurse and a flight paramedic at all times.  Because of the specialized care that is needed for critically ill or injured  patients, the crew members have been trained to care for patients appropriately in the airborne environment, in addition to pre- and post-flight care.  Lifeguard 4 is an extension of St. Mary-Corwin's Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit.  With specialized training, expertise and years of experience, the flight crew of Lifeguard 4 has the capability to perform the same life-saving procedures in the helicopter that are performed in the ER or ICU at St. Mary-Corwin.  Here is a look at the crew and credentials.

Flight nurses have at least three years of critical care, ICU or ED nursing experience.  RN's must have a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing upon being hired, or must obtain the degree within the first three years of hire.  Basic Life Support, Neonatal Resuscitation Program, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Class are all certifications that are maintained.  The certification of Certified Flight RN must be obtained within three years of hire as well.  Flight RN's have the training and expertise needed to place central lines, chest tubes, intubate, cric's, needle chests and to perform pericardiocentesis.  These validations occur on a continuous basis.

Flight medics must have the same certifications mentioned above, except for the Certified Flight RN status.  They are validated to perform intubations, needle chests, assist the flight RN with central lines and chest tubes, and can performs cric's.  Medics must have three years of experience in a busy ground ambulance service and must complete the Critical Care Paramedic course taught by Flight For Life.

Flight For Life Colorado helicopter pilots and mechanics are a diverse group with a common goal.  That goal is the safe accomplishment of our mission, whether that involves transporting patients from a catastrophic scene to inserting an avalanche dog and team on a high remote mountain top.  Every mission begins with an aircraft that has been checked and maintained by our helicopter mechanic.  Our pilots receive regular scheduled training and evaluation flights from the Air Methods Safety and Standardization departments.  They are also required to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and have a minimum of 3000 hours flight time, including Rocky Mountain experience.

Patient transports and follow-up care

When Flight For Life is called for service, the helicopter will transport the patient to the closest appropriate hospital for care, operating within the limits of the State of Colorado's statutes governing transport of trauma patients.  The destination is determined by the referring agency, a facility request, or the patient's request.  A patient's ability to pay is never questioned when urgent transport is needed.  Once the patient is in the care of the appropriate hospital, Lifeguard crew members provide follow-up care. 

Flight For Life crews provide telephone and written follow-up information to the referring facility or agency after the conclusion of the transport and initial patient diagnostic work up.  Follow up is within the rules estalished by HIPAA, and patient confidentiality is always respected.  The crew also contacts family members of the patient to let them know how their loved one did in flight and at the destination hospital.  It is important to provide a continuum of care for both the patient and family.

Outreach efforts

Flight For Life crew members are available to participate in case reviews at the referring agnecy at the facility's request.  The flight crew is very active in taking education on the road to the EMS community and rural healthcare facilities throughout southern Colorado.  In May 2008, Flight For Life held a conference in Walsenburg, CO and presented - free of charge - three lecturees that provided Continuing Education credits for EMS and nursing personnel.  It was well received and attended.  Currently, the crew is organizing a class for EMS in Custer County on BiPAP, CPAP and capnography.  Some flight crew members are also active in teaching ACLS, PALS, TNATC and TNCC courses.  For more information on scheduling outreach efforts, please call Lifeguard 4's crew headquarters at 719-557-4232.

The history of Flight For Life

Flight For Life was the first civilian, hospital-based emergency medical helicopter in the United States. It was founded in 1972 at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver, CO. Over 300 flight programs around the country and around the world have since been modeled on this concept. Available twenty-four hours a day, Flight For Life may be requested by any physician, ambulance service, fire department, law enforcement agency, ski patrol, or search and rescue group. A patient's ability to pay is never questioned when urgent transport is needed.

For more information on Flight For Life Colorado including additional history, a photo gallery, interesting facts and crew credentials, visit Flight for Life Colorado.

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