LifeFlight Eagle is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Why does that make a difference?

Simply put, it’s our long-term commitment to serving the community. We were founded right here in Kansas City more than 40 years ago. This is our home. We take seriously the trust this region places in us to safely care for patients at their most vulnerable times. It’s the driving force behind everything we do.

Many air-medical programs (even some branded as part of a university system) are actually operated to benefit multi-billion-dollar conglomerates that are out-of-state and owned by private equity investors. They’re notorious for opening and closing bases while chasing profits. In fact, more than 40 bases were shut down in the past 12 months by these companies and re-opened in a different location. Ultimately, their commitment is to investors, not to the local community.

As a non-profit, LifeFlight Eagle focuses on long-term sustainability, meeting the current and future needs of our region, and continually innovating in pursuit of great outcomes for patients on their darkest days.

It’s why we’re expanding our ground critical-care transport program, which allows our highly trained medical teams to provide critically ill and injured patients with intensive care during hospital-to-hospital transfers, even when we’re unable to fly because of inclement weather.

It’s why we’re significantly expanding our outreach education program that provides thousands of hours of training and education for emergency personnel each year, helping them retain licenses and certifications, learn new skills, and take even better care of the citizens in their communities.

We couldn’t do this without the help of our members and our donors.

Providing critical-care transport is expensive. We have multi-million-dollar helicopters and a highly trained staff on duty at each of our bases 24/7. To cover expenses, we rely on revenue from patient transports (the vast majority of which comes from insurance reimbursement), as well as our membership program and private donations.

For years, we have been committed to minimizing the out-of-pocket expense our patients might owe for LifeFlight Eagle transport. Nearly 20 years ago we became in-network with the region’s largest health insurer, and we have become in-network with others since. In 2008, we launched our membership program because of our concern for patients’ out-of-pocket cost for uncovered portions of their transport. Surprise billing for LifeFlight Eagle transport is not an issue our members face.

We’ve seen for-profit competitors come and leave Kansas City during the past 25 years. LifeFlight Eagle isn’t going anywhere. We’re local. We’re here to stay. And we’re here for you.

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.

Winter weather can be the best flying weather for EMS helicopter pilots.

On good days dense, stable air masses create smooth flying, better aircraft performance and less traffic.

Unfortunately, winter flights also involve hidden dangers not always apparent to non-aviation personnel. These hidden dangers can have catastrophic consequences if not properly accounted for. As a result, pilots and air crews must be conservative during winter months to prevent inadvertently placing themselves, their aircraft and their patient in dangerous situations.

LifeFlight Eagle is expanding its service and adding its first ground critical care ambulance in the Kansas City region.
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The ambulance will conduct only interfacility hospital-to-hospital transports, and will initially be used only when the organization’s aircraft are unable to fly because of inclement weather.

“Creating a ground transport option helps us fill a critical gap in the service we provide,” said Jeff Willhite, LifeFlight Eagle’s vice president of program operations. “Our rural hospitals have extremely sick patients they need to get to the city, regardless of what weather conditions might be. Now we can still serve those hospitals and their patients’ need for critical care, even if we aren’t able to provide the speed of an aircraft.”

2,178 Americans will have a stroke today. 365 people will die as a result. Countless others will be left with life-altering disability.

Strokes are the 4th leading cause of death in our country. More than twice as many American women will die from a stroke this year than will die from breast cancer.

These numbers are staggering, but medical technology has advanced dramatically in recent years. Many strokes can now be reversed if symptoms are caught early and patients receive treatment immediately.

Each year, LifeFlight Eagle flies hundreds of stroke patients from small communities to comprehensive stroke centers that can provide life-saving care or surgical intervention.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, LifeFlight Eagle and the City of Chillicothe broke ground on LifeFlight Eagle’s new north-central Missouri base at the Chillicothe Airport.

“We’re thrilled to get this project underway and to become a bigger part of this community,” said Roxanne Shanks, LifeFlight Eagle’s CEO, at a celebration luncheon that followed a frigid shovel ceremony. “This community has been so welcoming.”

“We’re extremely grateful to the City of Chillicothe and to all of you for making this happen,” Shanks said to the room full of city officials, emergency responders, community and business leaders and LifeFlight Eagle personnel. “We’re truly blessed to have great partners to work with at the city, at the hospital, and at the Fire Department. We look forward to working with everyone here even further in the future as we explore ways to positively impact the community.”

Last week, the city council awarded the contract to construct the hangar and crew quarters to Burman Construction out of Ozark, Mo., which had submitted the low bid. Construction will begin on the facility within the next 10 days, and is expected to be completed in August, 2017.

LifeFlight Eagle recently participated in a dedication event for a new helipad that community members built for the residents of Hale, Mo., and surrounding communities.

LifeFlight Eagle Flight Nurse Butch LeRoy, left, Hale City Lodge member Lloyd Lyons, Hale Lions Club members Bob Maddox, Gene Foster and Harold Shatto, and LifeFlight Eagle Flight Paramedic Damon Akers prepare for the ribbon cutting of the new helipad.

LifeFlight Eagle Communications Center coordinates among agencies to ensure safety, speed

Rather than taking 9-1-1 calls directly, LifeFlight Eagle responds to calls for assistance from fire departments, EMS organizations, law enforcement or hospitals.

These calls come into LifeFlight Eagle's Communications Center, which serves as the nerve center and hub for inter-agency communication, coordination and safety.

In February 2012, LifeFlight Eagle presented the "Life Saver Award" to Cole Camp (Mo.) EMS in recognition of outstanding life-saving service to its community.

"We are pleased to recognize Cole Camp EMS for their efforts to improve the lives of those in their community," said Joey Araiza, LifeFlight Eagle's Vice President of Clinical Services. "Their commitment to critical care education and their life-saving response to time critical illnesses like stroke and heart attack have had a positive impact in the lives of patients in Benton County."

When it comes to treating cardiac and stroke patients, time is critical.

Every moment of delay in getting a patient to an appropriate care facility means potentially more muscle or neurological damage, and reduces the chance that a patient will make a full recovery.

In early October, LifeFlight Eagle partnered with four frequent referring hospitals in its coverage area to launch a pilot program with the goal of reducing the time it takes to prepare a critically ill patient to fly.

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