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.