THE FUTURE OF METRO LIFE FLIGHT
There have been rumors floating around Lorain County about the future of Metro Life Flight; TMC NEWS went direct to Life Flight Officials to discuss the rumors and the future of their helicopter service.
First the rumors:
1. Metro Life Flight will change staffing from Physician/Nurse to Nurse/Medic
2. Metro Life Flight will be purchasing smaller aircrafts.
Now the facts:
On Monday, November 20, the Board of Trustees of The MetroHealth System approved a report recommending the purchase of three new helicopters to replace the current Metro Life Flight fleet. “As the region’s leader in trauma and critical care transport, we are reinvesting in our commitment to provide our community with the most highly trained medical rescue teams, the most advanced aviation technology, and the highest standards of safety and excellence in the industry,” said Donna Kelly Rego, Board chair.
“Our outstanding flight physicians, nurses and pilots will continue to be able to save lives in a new fleet of helicopters equipped with the most advanced avionics to fly long distances, even in inclement weather,” said John F. Sideras, President and Chief Executive Officer of The MetroHealth System.
Sideras said that the Life Flight staff will play a large roll in the selection process of the new fleet. “As part of the selection and purchase process, the Metro Life Flight crew will have an opportunity to design the interior space of the new helicopters in clinically innovative ways, based on their years of experience and skill, to once again redefine a standard of care that is unmatched in the critical care industry. This will allow us to continue providing the safest form of transport for critically ill and injured patients as we convey them to MetroHealth and other tertiary facilities.”
TMC NEWS has learned that the Board has authorized 20 million dollars for the purchase of the three new helicopters. The Board has also engaged Booz Allen Hamilton, nationally known consultants in the aeronautic industry, to assist MetroHealth administration in evaluating replacement options for the aging fleet.
The selection of new helicopters will be based on several factors:
* Exceptional safety record
* Size and capability to fly dual pilot with Instrument Flight Rated (IFR) certification, enhancing safety and efficiency even in inclement weather
* Aircraft speed and range, capable of flying in excess of 130 mph and distances of at least 120 miles round trip to service MetroHealth’s primary regional market
* Cabin volume in excess of 135 cubic feet with the ability to design the cabin space to meet safety and efficiency needs of the patient, physician and nurse on board.
* The ability to provide maintenance and service in a fiscally sound and efficient manner.
Speaking with the Metro Life Flight Chief Flight Physician, Dr. John Pakiela, he is proud not only of the past 25 years but of what the future holds for Life Flight. "For the past 25 years and for over 60,000 consecutive, accident-free transports, the mission of Metro Life Flight has been to bring the highest level of care to the patient, whether on scene or through interhospital transports.” Further, Dr. Pakiela stated that, "Metro Life Flight currently has the only 24 hour bases that serve Lorain County."
When asked about the staffing rumors Dr. Pakiela said, “We believe that the team to accomplish this mission is a critical care physician and nurse. This has been our standard of care and it will not change.” Dr. Pakiela says that Life Flight has always enjoyed a good relationship with agencies in the Lorain County area; “We have had great success in working closely with the safety forces and medical professionals in the area and transported over 600 patients in Lorain County in 2006. We look forward to continuing this true team effort."
"Amherst Fire District has used Metro Life Flight quite often; they have been a real asset to us on the Ohio Turnpike and also State Route 2 not to mention other roadways as well. Having a doctor on board has enhanced care and well being of victims, I am happy that the rumor is false about replacing the doc."
Assistant Chief Jim Wilhelm, Amherst Fire Department
"The Doctor/Nurse flight crew is what we feel is the best possible service our patients in the Wellington Fire District service. They have always provided excellent service and care for the patients in Lorain County."
Chief Bob Walker, Wellington Fire District
"They do a great job and as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In Carlisle we have never had a problem with their medical staff or flight crews. The Pilots have always let us know how our landing zones are and if we can improve them."
Chief Russ Gardner, Carlisle Township Fire
"I am happy to hear that they are keeping the nurse/physician combo on the helicopters. There are times when it is great to have a physician at the scene to help the EMS providers."
Assistant Chief Brian Bell, Elyria Township Fire
So there you are, another rumor put to rest by TMC NEWS.