Medivac proposal takes wing

Posted: Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The first hour immediately following a serious accident often is considered the most critical in determining whether an injured person survives and, if so, how complete their recovery will be.

Victims of accidents on the Kenai Peninsula may soon have one more weapon in their battle against the clock — a jet helicopter always at the ready at Central Peninsula General Hospital.

LifeGuard Alaska, the air ambulance medivac service based in Anchorage, has proposed stationing an emergency medical helicopter at the Soldotna hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

CPGH Chief Executive Officer Dave Gilbreath told the hospital board of directors Thursday that positioning the helicopter at CPGH would be done at no cost to the hospital.

He said CPGH has an average of 100 patients transported by air each year.

In addition to taking patients to Anchorage hospitals for further care, the helicopter would be dispatched to accident scenes on the peninsula when victims need to be sped to CPGH for urgent care, Gilbreath said.

LifeGuard Alaska crew members are trained in basic life support, advanced cardiac support, pediatric advanced life support, neonatal resuscitation, trauma nursing and advanced burn life support, as well as emergency medical technology (EMT).

Besides its emergency helicopter transport capability, LifeGuard Alaska operates a Lear jet with a flight range of 2,500 miles and a King Air twin-engine turbo prop with a range covering most of Alaska.

The jet gives the company a flight range that exceeds the distance required to get patients to Seattle, where the nearest Level I trauma center is.

Gilbreath said LifeGuard's proposal was discussed with two CPGH Emergency Department physicians and EMTs from Soldotna and Kenai.

The hospital has asked for a written proposal and a timeline from LifeGuard, and Gilbreath said the helicopter could be stationed at CPGH beginning early next year.

LifeGuard Alaska is the only medical air transport service accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems in Alaska.

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