Children's Medical Center's New State-of-the-Art Helicopter at Forefront of Air Medical Transport Safety

September 26, 2011

S76 helicopter designed to provide family-centered patient care

Children’s Medical Center www.childrens.com has debuted a new state-of-the-art medical helicopter that can fly two patients at a time while setting the highest standard for safety, including two pilots and full night-vision technology.

The Sikorsky S-76 C++ is a twin-engine helicopter that operates at higher speeds and performance and provides greater range and smoother rides than smaller medical helicopters. It allows for enhanced safety with two pilots at the controls. The aircraft can fly safely in inclement weather, with certification from its pilots.

“Children’s has chosen to be one of the few transport programs and the only neonatal and pediatric program within the United States to fly with two pilots in the helicopter,” said the hospital’s transport services director, Scotti Floyd-Edgar. “This is one of the greatest safety enhancements a program could bring to their community, the patients and families that we serve and our medical crew.” The dual-pilot system is now used by many medical pilots in Canada and Europe.

Safety is paramount to the transport program at Children’s. Since 2003, more than 80 people have died in medical helicopter accidents nationwide, according to National Transportation Safety Board statistics.

The $14 million helicopter’s ability to fly two patients on stretchers at once will allow patients’ families and physicians the opportunity to accompany children during flights and differentiates Children’s from other pediatric hospitals in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. “This is a tremendous comfort to the child being transported and to the parent as well,” Floyd-Edgar said.

The new helicopter will be staffed with medical personnel specially trained in neonatal and pediatric critical care. It is equipped with pediatric and neonatal equipment. The flight team consists of two pilots, a registered respiratory therapist and a registered nurse, and also can include a paramedic and physician when needed.

The helicopter is owned and operated by PHI Air Medical, a wholly owned subsidiary of PHI, Inc. The medical personnel who will fly on board are employed by Children’s Medical Center, while the pilots are provided by PHI. Much of the equipment was donated by members of the community.

“As the hospital’s air ambulance provider, we share in the important and unique mission of Children’s Medical Center,” said Paul Julander, director of Traditional Programs with PHI Air Medical. “PHI has always been at the forefront of safety practices and performance standards in the industry, and we look forward to this partnership

with Children’s in providing the community with the highest and safest level of care.”

The helicopter will transfer patients from other hospitals to Children’s Medical Center, but does not fly to emergency medical scenes. The new helicopter will be easily recognized from the ground by its snazzy purple-and-red graphics and by a large “Children’s Medical Center” logo painted on the bottom.

Children’s has had a dedicated helicopter for more than six years and transfers more than 4,800 acutely ill or injured patients a year to Dallas for medical care. Children’s Medical Center Transport Service is the first pediatric transport team in the nation to receive CAMTS (Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems) certification in all three modes of medical transportation:  fixed-wing, rotor-wing and ground. Children’s also is the first transport program in the nation to have a jet dedicated solely to pediatric transport. The hospital also offers the only Level I trauma pediatric hospital in North Texas.

The helicopter will be located on-site and at Transport Services at Love Field Airport at Signature Flight Support. Love Field has the space and equipment necessary for maintenance and support of the aircraft and is located only one nautical mile from Children’s Medical Center.

About Children’s Medical Center

Children's is a private, not-for-profit system. It’s the seventh-largest pediatric healthcare provider in the country, with 559 licensed beds, two full-service campuses and 10 outpatient sites. It was the state’s first pediatric hospital to achieve Level 1 Trauma status and is the only pediatric teaching facility in North Texas, affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center. For more information about Children’s, please visit www.childrens.com.