When a medical emergency occurs, time is crucial to saving lives. "Up until now, people in the Upstate of South Carolina who needed emergency long distance critical care air ambulance service had to wait for a plane out of Charlotte, N.C. or Gwinnett, G.A.," according to David Ellis, Program Manager, of EagleMed South Carolina. "Often these planes were already booked and some aren't available 24 hours a day, so during a time sensitive situation, critical hours were lost," Ellis said.
"Most people think of helicopters when they think of air medical transport flights," according to Ellis. Sometimes helicopters are the only mode of air transportation because they can land at an accident scene and take a patient directly to a hospital, therefore by-passing the need for an airport. But helicopters aren't an option for long distance trips, because of their slower speed and their fuel reserve limitations which limits the distance they can travel without stopping to refuel. Helicopters also can't fly in some weather conditions, like during times of high winds. Airplanes can transport larger patients than a helicopter. "Our sister company, Med-Trans, operates the medical helicopter services for the Greenville Hospital System, Spartanburg Regional, and AnMed Hospital in Anderson," stated Ellis. "Through them, we saw the need for a regional, medically equipped airplane to help patients," Ellis said.
"About 50 percent of our flights so far have been to take patients with serious burns to the regional burn treatment center in Augusta, GA," Ellis said. "EagleMed will also be used to fly patients who have suffered a stroke; or are in need of highly specialized cardiovascular or vascular surgery to Charleston, S.C.," stated Ellis. "Special pediatric and neonatal patients will be transported to the Greenville Hospital System or to Charleston, depending on the situation and their location," Ellis added. "We are notified of critical care situations by emergency workers, and while the patient is being stabilized, an ambulance will transport our specialized team to pick up the patient and bring them to the airport," Ellis said.
The patient, along with one family member, can then be flown in the pressurized cabin of a medically equipped King Air 90 aircraft that has a non-stop range of 900 miles and can fly 250 miles per hour (mph). All EagleMed aircraft are completely configured for mission critical transports. Each is equipped with state of the art medical and emergency equipment like heart monitors that have the capabilities for monitoring standard heart tracings as well as 12-Lead diagnosing, biphasic defibrillation, pacing, ETCO2, and pulse oximetry. Other transport equipment includes: transport ventilators, 3 channel infusion pumps and a medical loading system. This equipment, in conjunction with the highly skilled medical team and pilot transform EagleMed's planes into a "flying intensive care unit".
In comparison, a typical medical helicopter can fly 138 mph, provides a non-stop range of just 350 miles, the cabin is non-pressurized and there sometimes isn't room for an accompanying family member.
Within the FAA Central Region, EagleMed is one of only two FAA Part 135 charter certificate holders implementing the rigorous, five-phase SMS safety discipline.
The company operates CAMTS accredited bases. The company’s locations are in Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. EagleMed operates a fleet...