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 and crew off the street to conduct these long transports out of their communities.
Why did you choose to place your ground ambulance in Chillicothe?
Our Chillicothe base offers central proximity to several hospitals in our northern service area, who all face the need to transfer critically ill patients long distances to Kansas City or Columbia. To offer the service, we are partnering with the Chillicothe Fire Department, which will provide the ambulance and driver. Our flight nurse and flight paramedic will use LifeFlight Eagle’s medical equipment and provide patient care for the duration of the transport.
What’s the difference between LifeFlight Eagle’s ambulance and a typical 911 ambulance?
The vehicle itself is a normal Chillicothe Fire Department 911 response ambulance. We add the same high-tech medical equipment we use in our helicopters. The greatest difference, however, is in the configuration of the medical crew providing patient care. LFE’s medical team includes 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 on-call EMT or additional paramedic from the Chillicothe Fire Department—will drive the ambulance and provide logistical support as needed. In comparison, a typical ambulance has a two-person crew, including one paramedic or EMT caregiver in the back while the second crew member must drive.
How many ground ambulances does LFE have?
In addition to its partnership with Chillicothe Fire, LFE has one ground critical care unit that responds from our Harrisonville, Mo., base, and serves hospitals in our southern service area. After evaluating the efficacy of these ground models, 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.
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 on call 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 transport Time-Critical Diagnosis Patients?
LifeFlight Eagle’s ground critical-care team provides an exceptionally high level of care for patients, especially those who are critically ill. However, response time from the initial call until LifeFlight Eagle’s medical team is on site may be 30-60 minutes or more, depending on location. Physicians and medical teams at the referring hospital must decide whether the patient’s condition would be best served by immediate transport by local EMS to a higher level of hospital care, or waiting for LifeFlight Eagle’s critical-care team.
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 may outweigh the risk of keeping that patient in a safe, stable hospital environment.
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 on-call Chillicothe Fire Department EMT or paramedic drives and provides logistical support as needed.
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?
Chillicothe Fire Department’s ground ambulance is stocked with all the same supplies and equipment its 911 response ambulance carries. In addition, LifeFlight Eagle brings the same high-tech medical equipment we carry in our helicopters, including a Hamilton T1 ventilator, multi-channel infusion pumps, fluid warmers, Zoll X-Series cardiac monitor and more. In addition, we can transport a patient who is on a VAD/LVAD or Impella device (using the hospital's equipment).
Will the 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).
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.
Who charges for the transport?
LifeFlight Eagle will bill the patient and his or her insurance for critical-care transport. LifeFlight Eagle reimburses the City of Chillicothe and the Chillicothe Fire Department for the use of its ambulance and the time for the driver.
Will LifeFlight Eagle's membership program provide benefit on its ground ambulance?
Yes, LFE membership benefits extend to its ground ambulance operations. LifeFlight Eagle members pay nothing out-of-pocket for transport on any LifeFlight Eagle critical-care transport service.