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).