Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Adds Third Helicopter

June 11, 2012

AirCare 3 is based near Martinsville, VAWINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – June 11, 2012 –Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center now has three helicopters transporting critically ill patients to the Medical Center. AirCare 3 is based at Blue Ridge Airport near Martinsville, VA and serves the communities northeast of Winston-Salem. “We can save as much as 15 minutes in response time in this area by having an air ambulance based in Martinsville, and every minute counts in emergency situations,” said Maureen Sintich, RN, MSN, MBA, chief nursing officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Wake Forest Baptist has been serving southern and southwest Virginia since the air ambulance program began in 1986. In fact, the first patient to be transported was a child injured in an accident in Patrick County, Virginia. Since then, approximately 15,000 patients have been airlifted to the Medical Center from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and South Carolina. AirCare 2 is based at the Elkin Municipal Airport and serves communities northwest of Winston-Salem, including southwest Virginia. AirCare 1 is based at the Davidson County Airport in Lexington and serves the area south of Winston-Salem. They serve an area within a 150-mile radius of Winston-Salem. “With these helicopters based in strategic locations, we have improved our capability to save lives in emergency situations by reducing response time from communities and hospitals to the Medical Center,” said Sintich. Studies indicate that the mortality rate is lower when patients are transported to a trauma center within 60 minutes. Helicopters are in the air within 10 minutes of receiving a call. The crew includes a registered nurse with special training in critical care and an experienced critical care paramedic. They are in direct contact with EMS personnel at the scene or the referring physician at the hospital. The crew treats patients at the scene and usually is back in the air within 10 minutes of landing and communicating with physicians in the emergency department at Wake Forest Baptist. The air ambulances are an integral part of the critical care program at Wake Forest Baptist, which has been a Level 1 trauma center since l982. The Medical Center also is the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in North Carolina and one of only two burn centers in the State. “The impact on communities outside the Piedmont Triad has been significant over the years,” said Sintich. “Working with local EMS squads and community hospitals, we have saved lives and enhanced the quality of emergency services.” The helicopters fly at a cruising speed of approximately 150 miles per hour. “They actually are flying Intensive Care Units equipped with sophisticated life support and patient care equipment,” said Sintich. Wake Forest Baptist contracts with Air Methods, Inc., the world’s largest air ambulance operator, to supply the helicopters and pilots. The Medical Center’s critical care transport system also includes a mobile ambulance, based at Wake Forest Baptist Lexington Medical Center.