Wake Forest Baptist Locates Helicopter in Lexington

November 15, 2010

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has improved its Critical Care Transport System by reducing the response time to calls from communities and hospitals south of Winston-Salem.

One of two air ambulances, AirCare 1, began service today from the Davidson County Airport in Lexington. The helicopter had been based at Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem.

Basing the helicopter in Lexington will reduce flight time to communities in Rowan, Randolph, Guilford, Iredell, Montgomery, Stanly, Moore, Iredell and Davie counties. 

“We can save as much as 15 minutes in response time to these communities by moving AirCare 1 to the Davidson Airport,” said Donny Lambeth, president of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, a part of Wake Forest Baptist.

“Every minute counts in emergency situations,” he added. Studies indicate that when patients are transported to a trauma center within 60 minutes, the mortality rate is lower.

Earlier this year, Wake Forest Baptist began operating a second helicopter, which currently is based in Boonville in Yadkin County. That helicopter primarily serves the counties northwest of Winston-Salem.

“By locating these air ambulances strategically, we are significantly improving our response time to our 26-county primary service area,” said Lambeth. “The Critical Care Transport system is a vital community service for a Level 1 trauma center to offer 24 hours a day.

“Our team is proud to be part of the EMS system of physicians, nurses and paramedics who are committed to excellence in emergency services,” he added.

The crew includes an experienced critical care paramedic and a registered nurse with special training in critical care, emergency.    

AirCare treats patients with a variety of critical conditions including trauma, cardiac, stroke, burns, pediatric and neonatal and high risk obstetrical. 

The helicopter is in the air within 10 minutes of receiving a call, and the crew is in direct contact with EMS personnel at the scene or the referring physician at the hospital.

The crew treats patients at the scene and is usually back in the air within 10 minutes of landing. The crew is in direct contact with physicians in the emergency department at Wake Forest Baptist.

The helicopter, an EC 135 provided by Air Methods Corp., the nation’s largest supplier of medical emergency transport services, flies at a cruising speed of approximately 150 miles per hour and is equipped with sophisticated life support and patient care equipment, plus state-of-the-art navigation and communications gear and night vision goggles.

The pilot must have a commercial helicopter certificate with instrument rating and at least 2,000 hours total flight time. Air Methods has leased a hanger at the Davidson County Airport for the helicopter and crew.

The Critical Care Transport System also includes two mobile ambulances, one based at Wilkes Regional Medical Center in North Wilkesboro and the other based at Lexington Memorial Hospital.

Wake Forest Baptist began the air ambulance service 24 years ago and has transported more than 14,000 patients.

Media Relations

Jonnie Rohrer: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587

Lisa Davanzo: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587