WakeMed takes Critical Care Services to the Skies with the Addition of an Air Ambulance
RALEIGH, N.C. – WakeMed Health & Hospitals is pleased to welcome Air Mobile into the WakeMed Mobile Critical Care Services family.
“Providing care within the golden hour has long been the standard for trauma patients,” commented Dr. Bill Atkinson, WakeMed president and CEO. “Now we know that stroke, cardiac, neurosciences and neonatal patients also greatly benefit from the same speed to treatment. Getting care quickly for these patients can mean the difference between life and death and can help ensure they return to full functionality with a good quality of life.”
Atkinson continues, “The entire region will benefit from the addition of this helicopter, and we are very proud to extend WakeMed’s quality services to the skies.”
WakeMed Air Mobile is a twin engine EC-135 capable of transporting two patients. The aircraft is equipped to provide the same high level of critical care enroute as WakeMed Mobile Critical Care ground transportation and on average cuts travel time in half. The three-person flight crew includes a pilot, a flight nurse and a flight paramedic. The crew is trained to administer care to adult, pediatric and neonatal patients. WakeMed Air Mobile can be called to the scene of accident or illness by emergency services personnel and is also available for interfacility transports.
“WakeMed Air Mobile will complement processes WakeMed has implemented to streamline care for specific groups of patients,” said Betsy Sullivan, director and chief of Mobile Critical Care Services. “Trauma Alerts, Code STEMI and Code Stroke all bring together trained personnel to implement a standard set of protocols dedicated to decreasing mortality and improving functional outcomes in patients presenting with trauma, acute coronary syndrome, heart attack or a stroke. With air transportation, patients can travel a greater distance further and faster, enabling them to benefit from treatments during the most critical time of their illness.”
Introduced at WakeMed in March 2006, Code STEMI is designed to enable patients presenting to the hospital with acute coronary syndrome or a heart attack to undergo an angioplasty in the catheterization lab in under 90 minutes. This speed to treatment is proven to decrease lasting damage to the heart muscle. Code Stroke is a similar program designed to enable patients to receive a special clot-busting drug within the first few hours of having symptoms to more quickly restore blood flow to the brain to minimize lasting damage. Both programs have proven extremely successful.
The air ambulance will be part of WakeMed’s comprehensive Mobile Critical Care Services department. Currently, WakeMed Critical Care Services has 20 vehicles that serve approximately 1,000 critically ill patients each month and is the busiest inter-facility ground transport service in the state.
WakeMed submitted the CON for the air ambulance on June 15, 2006 shortly after the WakeMed Raleigh Campus earned a Level I Trauma designation from the North Carolina Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) Advisory Council. WakeMed Raleigh Campus has provided care for trauma victims since the 1980s, and operates one of the busiest trauma programs in North Carolina.
WakeMed has contracted with Omniflight Helicopters of Addison, TX, to develop the service. Omniflight is one of the oldest and largest providers of air medical services in the United States, operating in 14 states in association with over 30 major medical centers, the closest one being the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Omniflight will own the helicopter, provide maintenance and the pilot. WakeMed will provide the nurses and paramedics on the flight team as well as operational support.