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November 5, 2001

Emory takes flight with Rocky Mountain Helicopters

By Holly Korschun



Emory Healthcare has signed an agreement with Rocky Mountain Helicopters to assume medical oversight for three specially equipped A-star 350 helicopters based in nearby Griffin, Jefferson and Cartersville.

Designed as airborne critical-care units with a cruising speed of 140 mph, the helicopters are on 24-hour standby to lift critically ill and injured patients from a 150-mile radius around these communities to the closest appropriate hospital.

While Rocky Mountain has offered medical transport services in these communities over the last 18 years, most recently as LifeNet, the new agreement joins the country’s oldest and most experienced provider of helicopter medical transport services to the state’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare system. This includes Emory’s extensive emergency medicine and related patient care, along with its training programs for health care personnel.

In fact, Emory physicians and the medical staff of the newly named Emory Flight helicopters also will be actively engaged in the continuing education of health providers in North Georgia about the newest advances in emergency medical response.

Each of the helicopters is staffed by a pilot, nurse and paramedic and linked through advanced-technology communications to physician specialists in the receiving hospital or facility. The decision as to where the patient will be transported (whether or not the closest appropriate facility is part of Emory Healthcare) will be based on medical needs and the request of the referring physician or EMS personnel.

Serving as medical director of the Emory Flight program will be Alexander Isakov, an experienced flight physician and assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Isakov received his residency training from University of Massachusetts Medical Center, then completed two years advanced training at Boston EMS, which handles 911 responses for the city of Boston. He was a flight physician with the University of Massachusetts LifeFlight Program for five years and spent four years in the U.S. Navy in operational medical support. He remains active in the Navy Reserve.

“The beauty of the Emory Flight program is that, thanks to the highly sophisticated crew and on-board technology, protocols are implemented and care begins the moment the helicopter sets down in the place from which the patient is being moved,” Isakov said.

The nurse and paramedic who accompany patients are highly trained in critical care, with additional training provided on an ongoing basis by the emergency medicine department and other medical specialties within Emory Healthcare. They also are in constant contact with physicians during transportation of the patient.

Each of the A-Star helicopters is outfitted with technology for aggressive monitoring, including pulse oximetry and invasive and noninvasive hemodynamic monitors. This means physicians waiting on the ground have vital information in hand when the patient arrives. Other technology enables intensive patient care, including ventilators and airway management supplies.

“Emory Flight is another step in Emory Healthcare’s efforts to provide the broadest spectrum of care possible to our region of the country,” said John Fox, president of Emory Healthcare. “We believe this agreement is good for Georgia. These services enhance the capabilities of local emergency medical service responders and health care in the state, especially in situations where rapid access to definitive care has been shown to improve health outcomes.”

“Rocky Mountain Helicopters is excited about the opportunity to augment Emory Healthcare’s existing high-quality specialty services,” said registered nurse Gail Helmly, program director for Rocky Mountain Helicopters. “Emory Healthcare’s reputation in the community for outstanding service brings increased capability to an already successful air medical transport program.”

Rocky Mountain Helicopters has been associated with the air medical industry for more than 25 years. It was the provider of choice of the first aeromedical transport program in the United States, located in Denver. The company is the nation’s largest provider of both the traditional, hospital-based aeromedical program and the stand-alone (or alternative) provider services program. It currently operates aircraft at 59 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and employs more than 750 personnel nationwide, including medical staff.


Back to Emory Report November 5, 2001