Flight For Life has added a new fixed-wing Pilatus PC-12/45 to its fleet of lifesaving aircraft. The public is invited to a “Show and Tell” event Thursday, April 27, at 10 a.m. at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport sponsored by CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs. The new aircraft will allow for increased speed, efficiency and capacity for air ambulance services throughout the multi-state coverage area.
“This new fixed-wing aircraft will open a world of possibilities and services to patients in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma,” said Stan Holden, Chief Executive Officer of Flight For Life. “Flight For Life’s fixed-wing service will serve as a connector for CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System’s dedication to fiscal responsibility as a steward of community resources and leader of health care innovation throughout the country. With this aircraft, we will achieve greater economies of scale, extending the reach and mission of each of the system’s locations and services throughout a much larger area.”
In addition to what the helicopter ambulance service currently provides, the fixed-wing aircraft adds another facet to the patient-transport capabilities of Flight For Life. The fixed-wing aircraft will allow Flight For Life nurses and paramedics the opportunity to ensure the continuity of care for patients as they move from one facility to another, both within CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System and beyond.
“Having a Flight For Life fixed-wing aircraft based in Tyler will establish greater efficiencies and allow for improved response capabilities for Flight For Life’s ground ambulance counterpart, Champion EMS,” said Scott Kunkel, RN, MBA, NREMT-P, CMTE, FP-C, Chief Administrative Officer, Flight For Life. “Flight For Life will reduce the burden of ground-based EMS units tasked to transport patients long distances, thereby increasing the capability of Champion EMS units to respond to local 911 emergencies.”
“The PC-12 aircraft will allow Flight for Life to extend our critical care transport medicine expertise to a greater population of patients in Texas and our surrounding states. The increased speed, range, operational ceiling, all-weather capability, and the ability to operate out of relatively small airfields make it an excellent platform to provide the same high quality critical care as we do in our rotor aircraft, but in an extended environment,” said Mark Anderson, M.D., Chief of Emergency Care at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System. “Transporting patients in a pressurized cabin allows our aeromedical crews to operate over the top of weather that could potentially ground our helicopter fleet, and the controlled cabin pressure protects our patients’ physical condition at those altitudes. The increased interior space provides more physical access to both the patient and the critical life support equipment utilized by our teams of flight nurses and specially trained paramedics. The same ventilators, monitors, and specialty equipment, such as intra-aortic balloon pumps and pediatric transport pods, that we utilize in our rotor aircraft will be available for the fixed wing platform, increasing the interoperability of our crew members. We look forward to meeting the critical care transport medicine needs of our future patients and their families.”
The PC-12/45 has a pressurized cabin with a service ceiling of 30,000 feet, cruise speed of 327 miles-per-hour (285 knots), and a range exceeding 1,800 nautical miles (nm). Flight For Life can accommodate a combination of up to one patient, two pilots and three clinical crew members in the PC-12/45, however, standard configuration and crew are one pilot and two clinical crew. The Pilatus PC-12 offers an incredible Flight Management System, room for a patient’s family member and extensive medical equipment.
“The fixed wing aircraft offers increased poor-weather capability, as well.” said Kunkel. “The fixed wing aircraft’s marginal weather capability exceeds even that of Flight For Life’s instrument-certified helicopter and includes the ability to fly in icing conditions. Range, speed, efficiency and capacity are more favorable for the fixed wing aircraft when the distance of transport is longer. For instance, the identified primary service area for each of Flight For Life’s four operational helicopters is roughly 100 miles from their bases in Palestine, Winnsboro, Longview and Wills Point; whereas the primary service area for the fixed wing aircraft will be 350 miles – and the range actually extends up to 1,800 miles, if required.”
“The increased range and reach of the fixed-wing aircraft will extend the mission of CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs and CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System by providing access to CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Tyler and the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital as tertiary care destination facilities that provide specialty care medicine across a much broacher geographic landscape,” said Lindsey Bradley, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer for CHRISTUS Northeast Texas and Senior Vice President of Group Operations for CHRISTUS Health. “The increased range of Flight For Life’s services will be a force-multiplier for integrating a network of hospitals across Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and many other states that are linked under the CHRISTUS Health System.”