Pensacola-based Baptist LifeFlight

Eurocopter EC130s and EC135s serve Florida panhandle region HEMS and hospital missions.

Baptist Healthcare's LifeFlight mission communications center manages dispatch and tracking for all 4 helicopters in the system. Dispatchers are certified EMTs. Golden Hour Billing Specialist Tammy Nored (L) is responsible for bills and records, while Communications Specialist Nicholle Gittings coordinates EMS calls for the helicopters.

Generally, LifeFlight predicts IFR weather, low ceilings and fog as likely to occur in the Florida panhandle from December through March. When IFR conditions prevail, the EC135 will be able to fly an instrument approach to PNS (Pensacola FL) and then circle to land at the hospital pad, which is close to the airport.

LifeFlight's EC130s are new aircraft and were the first single-engine helicopters equipped with roll-on stretcher capability, which improves patient transfer into and out of the helicopter significantly. The new AMC108-1300 litter system, developed inhouse with Air Methods, represents a significant contribution to the industry in terms of speed, efficiency and safety, according to Stanhope.

Both aircraft types include an impressive avionics suite that features twin Garmin 430s and EMS SkyConnect satcom. The EC130 also has the new Garmin G500H electronic flight display, and the 135 includes the Thales Smart MFD.

The new EC130s came equipped with Aerazur pop-out emergency floats, which improve safety during offshore operations.

Stanhope says that LifeFlight's helicopters are equipped like state-of-the-art emergency rooms and provide the 2 medical crew with ample equipment and supplies to tend to patients requiring critical care.

Medical equipment on Baptist's aircraft includes Impact Eagle ventilators, Philips Heartstart MRx cardiac monitors, a Welch-Allyn Propaq LT pulse oximeter, MiniMed IV infusion pumps and built-in liquid oxygen systems.

Service, capability and safety

Mechanic Rob Mitchell and other maintenance staff handle all inspections up to 800-hr, plus component changes and avionics work, locally.

Baptist LifeFlight continues to look for opportunities to serve the Gulf Coast region with better and safer service.

In its 34 years Life­Flight has grown to 4 helicopters and a staff of more than 85 professionals, providing life-saving emergency medical services across 3 states.

While proud of where the operation has come from and what they have accomplished, Stanhope and his team continue to seek growth and improvement. High on the list for LifeFlight is the creation of dedicated instrument approaches to the hospital pads they currently base out of, with an eye to developing instrument approach procedures at other remote hospitals they operate into.

Stanhope adds, "We want to remain on the leading edge of safety in critical care transport through the use of improved technology."

Brent Holman has held a variety of flight training and operations management positions at a major US air carrier for the past 26 years, in addition to flying the line. He has also been involved in law enforcement aviation as a reserve officer/helicopter pilot for over 2 decades.


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