The highly anticipated arrival of Lutheran Air II in Wabash County took place Monday, Oct. 7, at Wabash Municipal Airport.
An hour-long reception with light refreshments kicked off before the helicopter landed in Wabash for the first time. After a brief welcome from Wabash Mayor Robert Vanlandingham and Brian Bauer, chief executive officer, Lutheran Hospital, interim chief executive officer, Lutheran Health Network, attendees were invited to get a close-up look at Lutheran Air II and meet several members of the crew.
News of the addition of Lutheran Air II to Lutheran Hospital’s critical care transport fleet and the construction of a new hangar at Wabash Municipal Airport was announced at a ceremonial groundbreaking in August. The second Lutheran Air medical helicopter will be based in Wabash at the airport, a geographically important location for patients living in communities that make up the southern and western portions of Lutheran Health Network’s 23-county service area.
In addition to expanding patient access to critical and specialty care, Lutheran Air II is already serving as a driver of economic development in Wabash County. More than 10 new jobs on Lutheran’s critical care transport team have been added, and the new hangar will generate new property tax revenue. Contractors and suppliers from the Wabash area are also working on the hangar project.
The predominantly blue helicopter with yellow and white trim is an EC135 aircraft. The original Lutheran Air, a BK117 that went into service at Lutheran Hospital in 2004, will also be replaced by an EC135 with the same new design in early 2014. Lutheran contracts with Air Methods to provide aircraft, pilots and flight mechanics.
Air Methods is the only air medical operator in the country to reach Level 4 of the voluntary Safety Management System program overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration. To achieve SMS Level 4, Air Methods implemented multiple voluntary safety programs more commonly associated with commercial airlines.
Lutheran Air program highlights are:
-Active program for more than nine years
-Average of six minutes to lift off after call is received
-Two units of o negative blood on board for every flight
-Only night vision goggle certified program in northeastern Indiana; all team members use goggles during night operations
-Only aircraft in northeast Indiana with skids which allows for soft surface landings
-Patient/family hospital destination requests are honored if medically appropriate for the patient’s condition
-Both the adult and pediatric trauma centers at Lutheran Hospital are level II verified by the American College of Surgeons
-Integrated communications center with full critical care transport ground services; includes a tertiary-care transfer center that ensures no additional time is needed to dispatch Lutheran Air
-Program aligns with community providers to create region-specific transfer guidelines (Level 1 Heart, auto launch guidelines)
-Air Methods, Lutheran’s provider, is the only helicopter vendor to receive the highest safety rating from the FAA.