Why did LifeFlight Eagle create a Ground Critical Care Transport program?
Adverse weather is the single biggest factor that prevents us from being able to respond to requests for transport by helicopter.
The rural hospitals we serve have extremely sick patients they need to get to the city, regardless of what weather conditions might be. Creating a ground transport option now allows us to serve those hospitals and their patients’ need for critical care, even if we aren’t able to provide the speed of an aircraft.
It’s a win for local EMS, too. It reduces the burden on 911 services, who have to pull an emergency response ambulance off the street to conduct these long transports out of their communities.

LifeFlight Eagle’s new ground critical care transport ambulance is now able to respond when inclement weather prevents its Harrisonville-based helicopter from flying.

What’s the difference between LifeFlight Eagle’s ambulance and a typical 911 ambulance?
The vehicle itself is no different than a typical 911 ambulance. However, it carries the same advanced medical equipment we use in our helicopters, which is more capable than what many 911 ambulances carry. The greatest difference, however is in the medical crew providing patient care. LFE’s ambulance is staffed by a highly trained critical care flight nurse as well as a highly trained critical care flight paramedic, who work together to provide patient care at all times during transport. A third crewmember—an EMT or additional paramedic—drives. A typical ambulance has only one EMT or paramedic caregiver in the back while the second crew member must drive.

How many ground ambulances does LFE have?
Currently, LFE has only one ground critical care unit. It responds from our Harrisonville, Mo., base, and serves hospitals in our southern service area. After evaluating the efficacy of this ground model, we hope to expand our ability to respond by ground to other parts of our service area, whether with our own ground ambulances, or in partnership with local 911 providers.

Why did you choose to place your ground ambulance in Harrisonville?
Our Harrisonville base offers central proximity to several hospitals in our southern service area, as well as easy access to the city. We determined it was the best location to serve as our proof-of-concept.

Will LFE run 911 calls in its ground ambulance?
No. LifeFlight Eagle’s ground critical care ambulance will be used only for interfacility hospital-to-hospital transfers.

How do I request a ground critical care transport?
Hospitals should call LifeFlight Eagle’s communications center at 800-422-4030, just as you would for a flight request. We process all transport requests first as a flight request. If we are unable to transport by air, we will inform you, and offer ground critical care transport as an alternative.

Will LFE’s ground ambulance always be in service?
No. Our ground ambulance will be placed in service when the weather forecast predicts extended periods of non-flyable weather. For example, we may be unavailable for brief periods if there are pop-up showers or brief fog that passes through the area. Because we expect the adverse conditions to clear quickly, we will not activate the ground ambulance.

Will LFE respond to scene requests in its ground ambulance?
No. LFE’s ground ambulance will be used only for interfacility transports.

Will LFE meet and do a rendezvous with our 911 ambulance?
No. At this point, we will only accept patient transports from a hospital itself.

Will your ground ambulance drive in all weather conditions?
No. When extreme weather conditions prevail, our crews, in conjunction with LFE leadership, will utilize a safety decision-making matrix to determine whether it is safe to transport a patient. For example, in a heavy snowstorm or ice storm, the risk of transporting a patient out of the hospital and across treacherous roads to another hospital outweighs the risk of keeping that patient in a safe, stable hospital environment.

Who drives the ground ambulance?
LifeFlight Eagle has hired a number of EMTs who are licensed in both Kansas and Missouri, and who undergo special training and certification to drive our ambulances. They fill an on-call rotation and respond to the base in 12-hour shifts during times when adverse weather is anticipated.

Who staffs the ground ambulance?
The ambulance is staffed by a flight nurse and a flight paramedic, who both remain in the back of the ambulance and provide patient care together, while an EMT or additional paramedic drives and provides logistical support as needed.

Does the EMT help with patient care?
The EMT drives the ambulance and provides logistical support. If requested by the flight nurse and flight paramedic, he or she may also assist with patient care within the scope of EMT practice.

Will LFE take a family member in its ground ambulance?
At the crew’s discretion, a patient’s family member may be allowed to ride in the ambulance. Per LifeFlight Eagle policy, however, a rider must stay in the cab with the driver.

What equipment does the ambulance carry?
LifeFlight Eagle’s ground ambulance is equipped with all the same advanced medical equipment we carry in our helicopters, plus additional equipment needed for a ground ambulance. In addition, our ground ambulance is equipped with an AutoPulse mechanical CPR device, which can provide continuous CPR if a patient’s heart stops during transport.

Will LFE’s ground ambulance use lights and sirens?
The use of lights and sirens is left to the discretion of the crew and is based on traffic, patient and environmental conditions.

Will LFE transport a patient on Mechanical CPR?
We carry an AutoPulse on the ground ambulance, which we will pro-actively place on post-code patients and other patients at the crew members’ discretion. If necessary, we will transport with a hospital’s mechanical CPR unit as long as we can take additional batteries sufficient for the duration of the transport (Zoll AutoPulse), and/or the AC wall adapter (LUCAS device).

Since LFE has a base next door, who will transport a patient from Golden Valley Memorial Hospital in Clinton?
If available, LifeFlight Eagle’s Clinton-based crew will immediately respond and initiate the transfer of patient care while the ground ambulance is en route to Clinton from Harrisonville. LFE’s Clinton-based crew will then continue to provide the patient care throughout the transport.

Will LFE transport any patient type?
LifeFlight Eagle will only provide transport for critically ill or injured patients. It will not conduct BLS, ALS or psychiatric transfers.

Will LifeFlight Eagle’s membership program provide benefit on its ground ambulance?
Yes, LFE membership benefits extend to its ground ambulance. LifeFlight Eagle members pay nothing out-of-pocket for transport on any of LifeFlight Eagle’s transport vehicles.

If you have additional questions that aren’t answered here, please contact base manager Chuck Palmer at [email protected] or 816-214-9228.

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