Wake Forest Baptist’s AirCare Program Celebrates 30 Years

November 2, 2016

AirCare, the air ambulance program of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is celebrating 30 years of treating and transporting critically ill and injured patients.

From its first flight in 1986 to transport a child injured in an accident in Patrick County, VA, the men and women of AirCare have responded to around 20,000 calls from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

The AirCare crew – made up of a pilot, a Wake Forest Baptist paramedic and a Wake Forest Baptist flight nurse – transports adult and pediatric patients with a variety of conditions, including trauma, cardiac, stroke and burns. Wake Forest Baptist is home to the only Level 1 trauma center in the region, one of only two burn centers in the state and one of only two Level 1 pediatric trauma centers in North Carolina.

The fleet is comprised of three helicopters strategically located throughout the region. AirCare 1 is based at Davidson County Airport in Lexington. In 2011, AirCare 2 was added and stationed at Elkin Municipal Airport in Surry County and in 2012, a third aircraft was added. AirCare 3 is housed at Blue Ridge Regional Airport in Henry County, VA. Critical care ambulances are also based at Wake Forest Baptist and affiliated hospitals.

“Placing our three aircraft throughout our service area allows us to respond to patients quicker than ever before,” said Billy Haynes, Wake Forest Baptist’s AirCare program manager. “Every day, families across five states trust us to take care of their loved ones who have been victims of wrecks, fires or other trauma. We also provide fast and efficient emergency transport from other hospitals in the region for patients who urgently need the specialized care available at Wake Forest Baptist.”

Averaging around 1,100 flights a year, AirCare responds to calls from first responders and hospitals 24/7. The helicopter is in the air within 10 minutes of receiving a call and the crew is in direct radio contact with EMS personnel at the scene or the physician at the referring hospital.

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

In February, four AirCare flight paramedics won the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) 2016 Games Advanced Clinical Competition, held in Baltimore. This team is the first flight team to ever win this prestigious national competition and will attempt to defend their title during the 2017 JEMS Games in Salt Lake City.

Wake Forest Baptist contracts with Air Methods, Inc., the country’s largest air ambulance operator, to supply the helicopters and pilots.

AirCare is part of an EMS network serving patients in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina and includes air (helicopter) and ground ambulances stationed in strategic locations to provide fast, safe transportation for critically ill and injured patients.

Media Relations

Joe McCloskey: jmcclosk@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-1273

Mac Ingraham: mingraha@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-3487