New University Staff for Life helicopter visits Hermann hospital
The newest helicopter in University Hospital’s Staff for Life Helicopter Service fleet that went into service Oct. 31 visited the Hermann Area District Hospital last Thursday morning.
The new helicopter, a McDonnell Douglas MD902, is equipped with the latest medical equipment, including in-flight cardiac monitoring, mobile blood testing and ultrasound, as well as state-of-the-art aviation equipment, including night vision and autopilot for the helicopter pilots. The new tiger-striped MD902 replaces the old BK 117 helicopter.
University Hospital’s helicopter service was mid-Missouri’s first air ambulance, providing immediate medical care and rapid transportation for critically ill and injured patients. Since the first flight in November of 1982, the helicopter service has flown approximately 30,000 patient missions.
“Our helicopter team is incredibly proud to have served mid-Missouri for 30 years,” said Leeann Johnson, R.N., chief flight nurse for the helicopter service, who has served on the flight team since 1984. “It’s a calling, caring for people when their lives are on the line. The most rewarding part is seeing our patients when they are going home from the hospital. When we are out on a training mission in a nearby community and a person comes up and thanks you for having saved his life years before, it’s touching when people remember that and thank us.”
The Staff for Life Helicopter Service was established through the efforts of Frank L. Mitchell Jr., M.D., then director of University Hospital’s Emergency Services. His idea began years before, when Mitchell was an Army officer in Germany during the Cold War. As an Army surgeon, Mitchell glimpsed the future of civilian trauma care as he treated soldiers who were transported to the hospital via medical evac helicopters after automobile wrecks and training accidents.
“When you’re trying to save the life of a trauma victim, minutes truly count,” Mitchell said. “If you can get the person to a trauma center within the ‘golden hour’ after the accident, that patient will have much better chances of surviving and thriving afterward.”