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.