LIFE STAR Goes Out of State: Third Helicopter Added to Fleet

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The new LIFE STAR helicopter, based at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield, Mass., already has more than 40 flights since being commissioned in November as the only air ambulance service in western Massachusetts.

Other LIFE STAR helicopters are based at MidState Medical Center in Meriden and Backus Hospital in Norwich, with a combined 32,000 flights and more than 20,000 patients in 30-plus years.

The LIFE STAR service in Westfield is so new that the helicopter still awaits its new hangar, expected to be ready later this spring.  This expansion of services is a result of a partnership between Hartford HealthCare, Baystate Health and Air Methods, a medical transport company.

“Air Methods and LIFE STAR’s operational and clinical expertise, combined with Baystate serving as the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, made this partnership a win-win,” said Jeffrey Flaks, president and chief operating officer of Hartford HealthCare. “It allows the western Massachusetts region to benefit from a needed service under an efficient delivery model.”

Patients suffering from medical emergencies and traumas that require timely transport to tertiary care centers are those that benefit from air ambulance services. In situations like a stroke or major blood loss, every minute matters — and rapid air transportation can make all the difference in survival and recovery.

“The LIFE STAR program has been an integral component of our services for more than 30 years,” said Flaks. “With nearly 32,000 flights and more than 20,000 patients served, we take pride in knowing countless lives have been saved thanks to LIFE STAR’s talented crew and extraordinary capabilities.”

Dr. Gerald Beltran, chief of Pre-hospital and Disaster Medicine at Baystate Medical Center, noted it is a fact that air transport saves lives.

“Time is everything when a critically ill or injured patient needs the highest level of emergency care immediately,” he said, “such as that available at our Level I trauma center, the only one in western Massachusetts. Having a LIFE STAR helicopter based close by in Westfield puts their highly trained and talented crew closer to those patients in need of their life-saving services when transportation time is an issue in reaching us.”

Each organization plays a critical role in the three-way partnership:

  • LIFE STAR will provide medical and quality oversight, the medical flight crew and communications support through its existing infrastructure at Hartford Hospital.
  • Air Methods will assist with aircraft management, flight operations and facilities, including a hangar space.
  • Baystate Medical Center’s board-certified trauma surgeons and specially-trained medical professionals will provide the highest level of care available in western Massachusetts for these critically-injured or ill patients.

“We are honored to expand our partnership with Hartford HealthCare and join with Baystate Health in growing timely access to airborne critical care services,” said Mike Allen, Air Methods’ president and chief operating officer.

Dr. Beltran added: “We are grateful to partner with LIFE STAR services to provide this very important benefit to the community, which will make a difference in the lives of many for years to come.”

Learn more about LIFE STAR here


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