Life Flight Network Boosts Patient Care, Safety, and Speed with New Investment, Innovation

Jan 14, 2021

A helicopter equipped with advanced navigation equipment, a new flight training simulator, six state‐of‐the‐art ground ambulances, and lifesaving plasma transfusion capabilities are among the air ambulance provider’s latest safety and patient care enhancements.

Aurora, Ore., January 12, 2021—Life Flight Network, the largest not‐for‐profit air medical transport service in the United States, today announced a series of new investments and innovations across its air and ground fleets. Specifically, Life Flight Network has added four new Bell 429 helicopters to its fleet, bringing unparalleled capabilities to communities in the region. As the most technologically advanced civilian EMS helicopter in the Pacific Northwest, the Bell 429 can fly in the challenging weather conditions common to the area. It also features the largest cabin of any civilian EMS helicopter in the region with more room for patient care; and high visibility exterior lighting for safer patient boarding at night. In addition to the Bell 429s, Life Flight Network’s new investments include a world‐class flight training simulator, six state‐of‐the‐art ambulances, and the addition of onboard plasma transfusion capability.

“Life Flight Network is thrilled to announce these new lifesaving capabilities,” said Michael Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer, Life Flight Network. “As a not‐for‐profit air and ground ambulance provider, we reinvest in safety and access to care for the communities we serve, rather than returning profits to shareholders. For more than 43 years throughout the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West, we’ve placed lifesaving air ambulance resources in rural communities where they’re needed most.”

A safe, spacious mobile ICU
Life Flight Network’s $34 million investment in four new Bell 429s reflects its longstanding commitment to safety and quality care. The Bell 429 is among the fastest and most technologically advanced EMS helicopters on the market. As an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certified helicopter, the Bell 429 allows safe operation in a wide range of challenging weather conditions, including heavy rain, high wind, and low visibility. IFR flight is utilized extensively by commercial airlines and allows pilots to safely navigate poor weather conditions by relying solely on their cockpit instrumentation. Life Flight Network’s new Bell 429s come equipped with various safety enhancements, including a four‐axis autopilot, which increases its IFR capabilities. They feature a spacious cabin large enough to provide unencumbered, full‐body access to the patient. Life Flight Network worked closely with the manufacturer on the design of the medical interior.

These added capabilities, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, allow Life Flight Network to safely and quickly get patients the lifesaving care they need.

“Our crews are dispatched in any number of challenging conditions,” said Dominic Pomponio, Life Flight Network Regional Vice President. “Our investment in the Bell 429s gives Life Flight Network the best‐in‐market capabilities to safely and quickly respond to emergencies, even with the challenging weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest.”

Every Life Flight Network aircraft is equipped to operate as a mobile intensive care unit (ICU) with leading‐edge medical equipment such as video laryngoscopes, ICU ventilators, and blood products, allowing specialized critical care treatment during transport. Life Flight Network aircraft are staffed with a Flight Registered Nurse, Flight Paramedic, and highly skilled EMS pilot. Its bases operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

New flight simulator enhances safety
Under development for more than a year, Life Flight Network has brought online a Frasca flight simulator to augment its rigorous pilot training program. Life Flight Network’s simulator lab contains a state‐of‐the‐art simulator and enough space for pilots to prepare for and analyze their flights. Built specifically for Life Flight Network, the new simulator allows pilots to practice maneuvers and scenarios that cannot be practiced in live aircraft training. Additionally, Life Flight Network is leading the industry by providing medical crews with the ability to “ride‐along” in the simulator and experience real‐world examples of in‐flight hazards and weather.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our patients and crews,” said Griffiths. “The new simulator expands our training program and gives our pilots invaluable practice at safely handling even the most challenging situations and weather conditions.”

The simulator is customized for Life Flight Network’s specific needs and allows for realistic, immersive, and scenario‐based training. This world‐class resource represents a significant investment and will allow pilots to practice a host of scenarios that are difficult to simulate in an actual aircraft.

Six new ground ambulances
Life Flight Network is stationing six new Freightliner/Horton ambulances in Aurora, Portland, and Eugene, Ore., as well as Richland and Spokane, Wash. The ambulances lead the industry in safety features, loading capacity, comfort, and ride stability. Transporting more neonatal patients in the Pacific Northwest than any other EMS provider, Life Flight Network’s new Freightliner/Horton ambulances are large enough to carry two patients, as in the case of a mother and newborn, and an incubator. The new ambulances are equipped with all the features of a mobile ICU and are staffed with highly skilled clinicians.

Onboard plasma transfusions bolster ability to save trauma patients
Life Flight Network was the first ambulance company in the Pacific Northwest to carry blood products onboard its aircraft, enabling red blood cell transfusions during transport. Life Flight Network’s partnership with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett now allows flight clinicians to provide both plasma and red blood cell transfusions – a significant advancement in the ability to slow and replace blood loss for trauma patients. Plasma is the liquid portion of blood that contains water, proteins, and clotting factors. Plasma transfusion can help with clotting, leveling off blood pressure, and restoring electrolytes during trauma and extreme blood loss.

“We’re proud to partner with Providence Everett to give paramedics and nurses one more tool during transport that can save lives,” said Dr. Jim Bryan, Medical Director, Life Flight Network. “While we have been administering red blood cell transfusions for decades, advancements in technology now allow us to store and administer plasma in an out‐of‐hospital setting.”

A not‐for‐profit air ambulance program with a local community impact
As a nationally recognized air medical transport service, Life Flight Network employs close to 700 people across its bases serving the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. Each base contributes more than $1 million annually to the local economy by creating approximately 15 to 20 new jobs.
The not‐for‐profit health care provider offers household memberships for a $69 annual fee. Members incur no out‐of‐pocket expense if flown for medically necessary emergent conditions by Life Flight Network or one of its reciprocal partners. To request more information about the membership program, or if organizations would like an in‐person presentation, contact the Life Flight Network membership office at 800‐982‐9299.

ABOUT LIFE FLIGHT NETWORK
Life Flight Network, a not‐for‐profit air medical service, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS), the National Accreditation Alliance of Medical Transport Applications (NAAMTA), and Helicopter Association International (HAI). Life Flight Network is the largest not‐for‐profit air medical transport service in the United States and maintains its own FAA Part 135 Operating Certificate. It offers ICU‐level care during air transport across the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. Life Flight Network is headquartered in Aurora, Oregon. For more information about Life Flight Network or to become a member, visit www.lifeflight.org.

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