Sunday, January 14, 2007


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."

TMC NEWS spoke with several Fire Chiefs in the County to find out how they felt about Metro Life Flight’s service.

"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.


Blogger haasenfoose said...

Greta news for Metro and the citizens it serves. My only question is, where are the old choppers going? Air 80 is off ELyria? Did I just start another rumor?

3:08 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Luc ess naos. Habe elembraz identoucoi combra? Yorami krimigorea unasra gio zendanni yogo... Lo se zoramm, il santer. Ja, foracido se un!!!

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Ralph from Elyria said...

Sounds great!! Great advertisement for Metro, and certainly a good plug to restart the debate over physician/nurse vs. nurse/paramedic. At the end of the day, if they can get me to the trauma center with the skilled surgeons, I for one don't care who gets me there. I forget, when Metro is out on calls, what physician/nurse service do they call for their back-up?

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Thursday is January 18, 2007. Regardless of what your preference is Ralph, please take a moment on the 18th and reflect on those that were killed when University MedEvac crashed on January 18, 2002. At then end of the day, it is about safety!!!

4:50 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

As an emergency care provider, I am happy to have a choice in who to call for aeromedical transport. Metro does a good job. If I'm working a scene with prolonged extrication or other delays, I have no issues waiting the extra 6 minutes for Metro to get to the scene. When the response time is 12-20 minutes for Metro, and 6 minutes for MedEvac, the choice is clear. If I need fast, fast, fast, I'm still requesting MedEvac. For Lorain County, they are the closest, fastest response during normal hours. When it all boils down, getting the patient from the scene to the trauma surgeon at a hospital as fast as possible is the goal. Doc or no Doc, that's what I feel is best for the patient.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moot points girls and boys. What the article didn't say is that Medivac is closing at the airport and moving to Akron. Ask Kobi. They weren't really serving us anyway being closed half the time!!! So much for the false promises, but I got a great t-shirt and some pizza!!!

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are "normal hours" Dave?? Should we staff our fire stations from 10a-10p and hope there is no fire. MedEvac wasn't what they promised plain and simple...smoke and mirrors. I'll take the doc any day. If you as a medic can't take care of someone for 5 minutes, maybe you should reconsider your field. With your logic, why have ALS if BLS can get there quicker. Stop eating the doughnuts and start reading the literature!!

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some good discussion here.

You're limited to what you can perform on a helicopter. Dr. or no Dr. The primary objective of the helicopter is to get them to the hospital ASAP while keeping them stable. The Golden Hour.
To say DR/RN over RN/EMT is an insult to ems professionals.
Are you saying that RN/EMT is less capable or incompetent of doing there job?
My answer is No. I don’t think so.
So what exactly is it about the Dr. that he/she does that the RN or EMT can't do?

The Dr. cannot make a full assessment until they get to the hospital any way.
It's politics as usual. No time to play favorites and gamble with someone’s life when time is running out.

As for Metro getting new helicopters. They’re in fact smaller, It's going to be tight in there, it's going to be a heavy load with a crew of 5, response time longer and range shorter.

As for safety. There are four factors in that. Pilot error, mechanic error, mechanical failure, and structural failure. No one can predict an accident. It’s a matter of time or luck or whatever. It’s great that Metro has the safety record they do. Life Flight of Toledo has had their accidents but it does not make them less capable of doing an outstanding job. To use the tragedy of Medevac is sick, warped, and a low blow just to boost an ego trip. God forbid, but if Metro should ever have an accident, then what?
Accidents happen. That’s the nature of the beast.

It’s too bad Medevac has left the area. It would be nice to have a helicopter stationed in the area.

It's all about saving lives!!

Take care and be well.

7:58 AM  

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