Geisinger Life Flight with WinAir Digital Signatures

WinAir, July 03, 2019 – London, ON, Canada/Danville, PA, USA – When emergency care is needed, every minute counts. WinAir is pleased to announce that Geisinger Life Flight has successfully implemented digital signatures for its aviation management software, WinAir Version 7, and is now live with this new feature.

Digital signatures provide Geisinger with the ability to have mechanics and inspectors electronically sign off on maintenance tasks and job completion. As a result of this implementation, Geisinger has become the first aviation operation to receive Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval to utilize WinAir’s’s digital signaturess functionality.

Geisinger Life Flight, an air ambulance service owned and operated by Geisinger, is comprised of nine helicopters operating out of six bases and includes a critical care ground transport unit.

Geisinger Life Flight began operations with a single aircraft based at Geisinger Medical Center (GMC) in 1981. It now commands a rotary-wing fleet of MBB/Kawasaki BK-117, BK117-C1, and Eurocopter EC-145 medical helicopters, and is the second-largest air ambulance operator in Pennsylvania. At any given time, six of these helicopters are in a mission-ready state.

The company averages 2,800 flights per year, has flown more than 66,000 patients, and is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).

Geisinger’s expansion and investment in its Life Flight program continued throughout 2017 and into 2018, when it signed and started an air medical collaboration agreement with St. Luke’s University Health Network, also located in Pennsylvania. The expansion agreement with St. Luke’s grew Life Flight’s service area and added the EC-145 helicopter to its fleet.

This program expansion resulted in Geisinger’s spring 2019 decision to relocate its Life Flight 1 base from a hangar at GMC to a new location. This move will improve medical response time for residents in rural areas who are further away from specialty medical services and provide additional space for dedicated maintenance activities at the GMC hangar.

Before signing on with WinAir in 2012, Geisinger was using competitive aviation management software to manage maintenance, along with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage inventory. Geisinger determined that this approach was not meeting its needs—it required integrated maintenance and inventory control software, which prompted the move to WinAir.

This migration proved to be a significant benefit to its operations, leading to the company upgrading in 2017 to WinAir Version 7, the fully web-based version of the software. In order to further assist its maintenance team, Geisinger reached out to WinAir and inquired about digital signatures within WinAir Version 7. This feature would assist Geisinger with streamlining processes, saving on labour costs, and providing the company with the unique opportunity to go completely digital.

Digital signatures is a newly enhanced feature for WinAir Version 7 that creates a unique digital record in WinAir leveraging a secure user verification method (ex. active directory). When maintenance work is completed, a mechanic must review the work and accredit it by adding their signature to a task card. This is followed by an assessment by the inspector, who must also approve the completion status of the maintenance work. Typically, this sign-off is completed on paper task cards; however, with the introduction of digital signatures, all of this authentication can occur digitally.

This process safeguards against the introduction of inaccurate data and increases safety, as any follow-up modifications made to the task or check will invalidate the authentication and necessitate re-authentication. It also saves time, boosts productivity, and ensures data authenticity and integrity.

“Investing in and using innovative technology is part of the natural evolution of who we are as an organization,” said Jeff Gazey, Geisinger Life Flight Director of Aviation Maintenance. “The journey to having digital signatures took more than a year and included updating policies and procedures, working closely with IT staff, and securing government regulatory approvals. We worked step-by-step with WinAir as the product was developed and are thrilled to have it in place and up and running.”

Geisinger had to apply to both the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the FAA to implement this feature; with approval granted by both agencies. This culminated in Geisinger’s successful implementation of WinAir’s digital signatures a month later.

“Digital signatures make our maintenance processes more efficient and gets our aircraft back into service faster so we’re ready to care for people in need,” said Jerry Splitt, Geisinger Life Flight Program Director. “Implementing digital signatures will save more than 2,200 hours of labor and nearly $10,000 in labor costs and office supplies annually. We can take these savings and reinvest them into our program to continue providing exceptional care to our patients in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.”

Kyle Vergeer, WinAir Managing Director, agreed: “Digital signatures will assist Geisinger’s maintenance team tremendously by accelerating and streamlining maintenance work steps, while simultaneously ensuring data integrity. We are thrilled that Geisinger has decided to use this feature for their fleet maintenance program and are pleased to learn that the Department of Health and the FAA have granted them approval. We foresee that digital signatures will be a significant benefit to the entire operation at Geisinger Life Flight.”

With the addition of digital signatures, aviation operations are set to gain from improved procedures, remarkable time savings, and a process that safeguards data integrity. For aviation operations with a focus on safety and adherence to industry standards and regulations, like that of Geisinger Life Flight, WinAir Version 7 and WinAir’s digital signatures are a natural fit.

First EC135T3H Medical Interior

Metro Aviation, June 20, 2019 – As a leading completion center for the EC135/H135, Metro Aviation became the first to STC a medical interior for Airbus’ H135 T3H variant with Helionix.

Outfitted for STAT MedEvac, the STC includes aspects of Metro’s standard air medical package with equipment standardized and modernized to match the program’s existing fleet of aircraft.

The two-decade-long relationship between Metro and STAT MedEvac began making groundbreaking strides in the industry with the EC135 in 1997. Now, the partnership hopes to showcase how the sleek aircraft can continue to command the skies with its gentle noise footprint.

The H135 family of helicopters tout versatility and endurance. Additionally, the spacious interior and abundant payload capacity is perfect for an EMS configuration.

Metro’s STC allows air medical customers to transport critical care patients safely and efficiently. Features like clamshell doors and ambulance-like loading systems make that possible. Plus, STAT Medevac’s configuration accommodates a care team of up to three medical personnel.

The aircraft joins a fleet of 17 helicopters, all outfitted with the latest in aviation technology.

Geisinger Life Flight 1 relocating to Snyder County

Due to the expansion of and investment in Geisinger’s Life Flight program, the Life Flight 1 base will be relocating from Montour County to Snyder County. This summer’s move creates more space for the program’s maintenance team.

Life Flight 1 will move to its new home at the Penn Valley Airport near Selinsgrove early this summer. Since the program began in 1981, a hangar on the Geisinger Medical Center (GMC) campus in Danville has served as Life Flight 1’s base. That spot will remain as the Life Flight program’s maintenance facility.

The program averages 2,800 transports per year with nine state-of-the-art helicopters, equipped for adverse weather conditions and night vision to ensure a safe flight at any time, and a critical care ground transport program based at GMC. Life Flight recently transported its 66,000th patient.

“With the growth of the program, there simply isn’t enough space at GMC to house both our maintenance and Life Flight 1 crews,” said Jerry Split, Geisinger Life Flight program director. “We looked at our options and determined expanding our current GMC site wasn’t feasible due to its location. We made this decision to relocate Life Flight 1 to allow for our maintenance team to do the great job they do in maintaining the program’s fleet.”

Maintenance staff will be able to use more space to more effectively and efficiently repair and inspect aircraft. The program’s administrative and communication center operations will also remain at the existing GMC hangar.

Geisinger currently has nine medical helicopters and operates six of those helicopters around-the-clock from bases in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. The program also includes a critical care ground transport ambulance, which will be based at Geisinger Medical Center.

“This relocation will decrease our response time to better serve EMS agencies and patients who need the specialized care our team provides in emergency and inter-facility transport situations,” said Andrea Wary, associate vice president of emergency medicine at Geisinger. “This move will decrease response times in Juniata, Mifflin, lower Northumberland, Perry, Snyder and Union counties. These areas are furthest away from specialty, often time-sensitive medical services, including pediatric, trauma, stroke and heart attack care, which are all provided at Geisinger Medical Center.”

Four other Life Flight helicopters are based at airports, including University Park Airport near State College, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville and at Jake Arner Airport near Leighton in a partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.

“We’re excited to have Life Flight at the airport and to provide a space to bring this level of service to our community,” said Bruce Witkop, Penn Valley Airport board chairman. “This move highlights the hard work our members have put into the airport and the upgrades we’ve made over the years here. This airport is a regional asset, and for Life Flight 1 to find its new home here, it shows we’re finding ways to persevere as a small airport.”

Geisinger Life Flight, Penn Valley Airport and Energy Aviation collaborated in developing the agreement for Life Flight 1’s relocation.

“We’re happy to again be working with Geisinger’s Life Flight program and providing space for them in one of our hangars,” said Paul Tillotson, general manager of Energy Aviation. “We’ve been working with Geisinger for years at our Williamsport Regional Airport location and partnering with an organization experienced in using our space makes a relationship like this easy.”

The program’s five other bases include State College, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Montoursville, Minersville and Leighton. The program includes approximately 130 staff members, including pilots, flight nurses, flight medics, communications specialists, maintenance and administrative staff. Geisinger Life Flight is the second-largest air ambulance program in Pennsylvania. Life Flight is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport System (CAMTS).

Three Bell 429 to New York Mercy Flight

Bell Helicopter, October 01, 2018 – Fort Worth, TX – Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc company, announced today the delivery of three Bell 429s to Mercy Flight Inc.

Mercy Flight remains one of the few nonprofit providers of air and ground medical transport services. Established in 1981, Mercy Flight has safely completed more than 27,000 patient missions during the last 36 years. Providing around-the-clock care servicing all of Western New York, Northwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.

“The Bell 429 is an incredible platform, and we are proud to add three additional aircraft to our current fleet as we strive to continue our mission of saving lives and improving outcomes for many more years to come,” said Doug Baker, president, Mercy Flight.

“The core of our business is crew and patient safety, and the Bell 429 has proven performance and reliability in demanding situations.”

There are currently more than 190 Bell helicopters performing HEMS operations around the world.

The Bell 429 is the only light twin-engine helicopter on the market with true two-litter capability, featuring enough cabin space for two medical attendants and two crew members. The Bell 429 also offers exceptional flight performance with a fully integrated glass cockpit, advanced drive system and best-in-class SBAS navigation and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capability. It is the first helicopter certified through the MSG-3 process, resulting in reduced maintenance costs for operators. The Bell 429 also features a spacious cabin and extra-large 60-inch side doors, as well as IFR capability certified for single or dual pilot operations.

“The Bell 429 delivers exceptional speed and aircraft readiness when minutes matter. Bell is incredibly proud to provide aircraft to support the men and women of Mercy Flight who dedicate their lives to serving others, and we look forward to working together for many years.” said Jay Ortiz, vice president, Commercial Business, Americas.

New St. Luke’s Helicopter Takes Flight

DANVILLE, Pa. – There’s a new medical helicopter in the skies above the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities, as the air medical collaboration between St. Luke’s University Health Network and Geisinger takes flight.

As of July 1, Geisinger’s Life Flight program is providing air ambulance transportation services for the St. Luke’s system. The collaboration features Life Flight 6, a medical helicopter owned by St. Luke’s and leased to Geisinger, that is based at Jack Arner Airport near Lehighton, Carbon County. This is the same base utilized by previous air ambulances serving the St. Luke’s system.

“St. Luke’s new helicopter and the robust services of Geisinger Life Flight will ensure our trauma patients get the best care as quickly as possible when time is of the essence,” said Mark R. Lohman, RN, PHRN, Network Director of St. Luke’s Emergency & Transport Services.

Life Flight 6 is a state-of-the-art, twin-engine EC145 helicopter manufactured from Airbus Helicopters. The EC145’s advanced avionics capabilities allow flight crews to conduct both visual and instrument flights, meaning that regardless of the weather conditions, the pilot is able to safely conduct flights by seeing the flight path in the sky, or by flying with guidance from air traffic control.

The aircraft is night vision goggle-certified and can carry two patients, the care team and specialized medical equipment, including ECMO equipment. (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is used for patients with critical heart or lung problems, enabling long-term respiratory support.)

“This is a real exciting time for our program,” says Gerald Splitt, Life Flight program director. “These are the best equipped and most capable helicopters in the region. We focus on patients and having the most capable team and equipment to care for them. Our training never stops, so we can provide the best care for newborns through people aged 100 years or older.”

Through its 37-year history, Life Flight has transported more than 60,000 patients. The program includes 100 team members and operates nine helicopters out of six bases in Danville, Lehighton, Minersville, State College, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Williamsport. Approximately 65 percent of Life Flight flights are transports from one hospital to another, and 35 percent are from medical and trauma incidents throughout the region.

The two health systems are no stranger to collaboration. In a first of its kind venture in Pennsylvania, the two systems are teaming up to build a new hospital, located off Route 61 near Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County. A groundbreaking ceremony will occur later this month. Geisinger and St. Luke’s also share an insurance partnership.

Penn State Health adds H155 to Life Lion fleet

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State Health Life Lion Critical Care Transport has welcomed a new helicopter to its life-saving fleet. The newest aircraft is the largest aeromedical helicopter in Pennsylvania.

The H155 model, developed by Airbus as part of its Dauphin family of helicopters, is one of three owned by Penn State Health. The dual-engine helicopter has an especially large interior cabin, allowing for more crew members and medical specialists to accompany patients and administer care.

“By regularly updating our aircraft and our capabilities, we increase our capacity to treat and transport even the most critically ill and injured patients,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lubin, division chief for pre-hospital and transport medicine at Penn State Health. “We are also committed to maintaining the highest levels of safety and continuing our commitment to providing cutting-edge, air medical resources to the communities we serve.”

Since its first patient flight in 1986, Life Lion has flown more than 40,000 patients, including stroke and cardiac patients, accident and burn victims, infants and others in urgent need of high-level care. About 30 percent of Life Lion’s flights are trauma-related, and the other 70 percent are inter-hospital transports of both patients and organs for transplant.

All Life Lion aircraft are equipped with instruments that allow for safe flight in low visibility conditions.

Among the first people to tour the new aircraft at a media event today was Jayce Himes. In August, Himes was flown aboard Life Lion from Chambersburg Hospital to Penn State Children’s Hospital. He was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.

“I was upset and scared, but the crew members were very heart-felt and supportive. They weren’t there just to get the patient and go,” said Kristle Himes, Jayce’s mother. “From the flight crew to the team of doctors and nurses at the Children’s Hospital, we were very thankful for the care Jayce received. It was just amazing.”

Life Lion Critical Care Transport is backed by the team of specialists, nurses and other staff of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the region’s only Level I trauma center for both adults and children. Life Lion serves south-central Pennsylvania, while also transporting patients to hospitals in other states, including New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio.

As has been the case for several years, the Life Lion critical care fleet consists of three helicopters and a pediatric ground transport ambulance. At all times, two of the three helicopters are in service, with one stationed at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and one at Carlisle Airport. Both locations are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Life Lion pilots have an average of 38 years of experience, while the program’s paramedics average 22 years and nurses average 18 years of experience.

Update on

Well….. after 20+ years of working on this website, we just couldn’t let it go. But, we could no longer handle the entire country’s fleet of HAA. So, we come to this – we are just going to try and keep track of the Pennsylvania fleet of helicopters. With just around 50, this should be manageable.

While we are transitioning, we are going to go with a new theme. Might be a while until site looks good again…..

STAT MedEvac 10

Not everyday you get to see this aircraft in town – STAT MedEvac 10, serving Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. Not sure of their flight profile today, but Hopkins to Danville is about a 120 mile, almost due north trip for them.