Saturday, December 19, 2015

Life Star set to debut new helicopter

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The air ambulance for our area is getting an upgrade.

Life Star unveiled its brand new helicopter Thursday. It's called a "Grand." Officials say the Agusta Westland 109S will take Northeast Kansas healthcare to grand heights.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Star's executive director, says the aircraft offers a lot of advanced avionics that make it easier for the pilot to fly safely, including the ability to go into instrument flight rules in poor visibility.

"A pilot will be able to fly in conditions they can't currently," he said. "It also has weather radar on it, warnings systems where other aircraft are nearby, other towers are nearby, buildings nearby, to warn pilots of any hazards out there."

It also offers more space for personnel and equipment -- and something else that's vital in an emergency situation - speed.

"When dealing with critically ill or critically injured patients, every second counts," said Dr. Bill Sachs, the medical director for Stormont-Vail Trauma.

A faster helicopter means less time out of the hospital for patients being transferred for more critical care and less time getting to the hospital for those critically injured in an accident.

"The faster we can get these patients here, the faster we can begin their workup and take them to surgery and get the on the road to recovery," Sachs said.

Staff is training on the new aircraft right now. They expect to put it into service in January 2016.

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