LifeFlight Eagle recently completed an upgrade of its Communications Center, where all emergency medical flights are managed and tracked

After several months of planning and training, LifeFlight Eagle's Communications Specialists have moved into a new facility and are using new Computer Aided Dispatch software.

Communication Specialists are the first point of contact for local fire departments, emergency medical services or hospitals when a patient's condition requires air transport.

When requests are received, Communication Specialists, aided by sophisticated technology at their fingertips, immediately notify the nearest helicopter crew of the request. They provide the pilot with the location and provide the flight nurse and paramedic with patient information.

If the request is for a scene flight, they coordinate with the local EMS services and Fire and Police agencies to locate and secure a safe landing zone and later notify a receiving hospital of an inbound patient and the patient's condition.

The Communication Specialists' goals are to help get the helicopter and medical crew to the patient safely and as quickly as possible, to ensure the receiving hospital has all information possible to prepare for the patient's arrival, and to continually monitor the progress of a flight through satellite tracking.

The new FlightLink Computer Aided Dispatch software — or CAD — is a workflow manager, said Dick Whipple, LifeFlight Eagle's Director of Program Operations.

"The new CAD was designed to help rapidly process the information to get a helicopter to the requester as quickly and safely as possible," Whipple said.The CAD is also an important business intelligence system that provides LifeFlight Eagle with data to track and evaluate demand for flights and other information it can use to deploy its resources efficiently and to provide the public with the best service possible.

The communications center moved in late December to a larger, more private space at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, creating an environment that is more comfortable with fewer distractions. New work stations with multiple computer screens and monitoring equipment were added to accommodate growth as flight demands increase.

According to Whipple, "The new Communications Center is about creating the best environment we can to ensure that all flight requests are routed as efficiently and safely as possible."