Better technology gets help to patients in extreme conditions

May 21, 2014

Mercy expands helicopter services

With the decision to expand its services, Mercy Northwest Arkansas (NWA) is bringing faster, safer health care to those who need it in an emergency. Mercy’s own signature air medical service, Mercy Life Line, is here to serve the entire NWA corridor operating a new EC135 P2+ helicopter with upgraded technology allowing pilots to fly in weather conditions they previously could not have faced.  A priest chaplain with Mercy Pastoral Services blessed the aircraft today during a brief ceremony.

“Emergencies come at all times, including during bad weather. This new Mercy helicopter means we’ll now be able to fly patients when there’s reduced visibility and low clouds,” said DJ Satterfield, director of Mercy Life Line Air Medical Service. “We’ll be able to operate under the FAA’s Instrument Flight Rules, just like commercial airlines—allowing the technology to help guide us.”

It all adds up to getting help to critically-ill patients quickly. The advanced on-board technology, including global positioning system (GPS), weather radar, auto pilot and a terrain awareness warning system also means a higher level of safety for those patients and the flight crew as they make their way to the hospital.

“The inside of this helicopter is also bigger, so in most circumstances a family member can ride along with the patient. That’s an important emotional component for the families we serve,” noted Satterfield.

The aircraft also contain the latest in medical transport equipment allowing for top-notch care. Mercy’s Life Line medical staff members continually train in the hospital for what they might encounter in the field. They start the care immediately and it continues seamlessly once they arrive at the hospital.

“The Mercy Life Line program has a deep foundation in Mercy culture with an impeccable record and reputation in the air medical field,” said Eric Pianalto, Mercy hospital president. “We hope its presence - clearly visible from I-540 or in flight across the region - will continue to communicate our resolve to bring the best care possible to our patients and their families.”

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