OSF Aviation has launched a new fleet of Life Flight and Lifeline medical air ambulances. There are four helicopters in all, two based in Peoria, IL and one each in Peru, IL and Rockford, IL.
OSF Aviation is part of OSF Saint Francis, Inc., which is owned and operated by OSF Healthcare System.
The new helicopters are EC145s manufactured by American Eurocopter. Each has the capability of holding up to two patients and four others including the pilot and medical team members.
OSF Aviation began the search for replacement aircraft more than a year ago in an effort to update older technology as well as alleviate parts, support and availability issues with its current fleet of Bell 230s, which are about 15 years old.
The EC145’s performance, versatility and range provide operators with multi-mission capabilities in a medium-class, twin-engine helicopter. The safety features of the aircraft, including high set main and tail rotors, and the large cabin and rear-loading clamshell doors, have made it the helicopter of choice for a large number of EMS programs in the United States and worldwide. These characteristics also helped in the decision for OSF Aviation.
“We knew that the EC145 would provide us with the extra range and the power to carry extra weight when needed,” said Brent Grady, OSF Aviation Executive Director. “With the additional space offered by the EC145’s cabin, this allows us the capabilities to fly team flights, carry isolettes, and dual patients if the mission requires.”
In an effort to minimize the financial outlay necessary for such an important upgrade, OSF Aviation has chosen to lease the new helicopters. If purchased outright, each helicopter would cost approximately $7 million, which includes a significant investment in safety features that provide added protection for patients and crew members.
Some of the key safety features in the new fleet include:
• Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). This allows us to fly Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) when other helicopters can’t as we are able to fly in the clouds without relying on visual reference points.
• Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. Lets pilots know if they are too close to the ground or if other obstructions are close.
• Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Allows pilots to see other air traffic in the area.
• Up-to-the-minute satellite weather information and Storm Scope. Indicates lightning strikes in the immediate area.
• Sky Connect Satellite Tracking System. Allows our aircraft to be tracked at all times while in flight by a flight communication specialist. Calls can routed through a satellite phone if necessary.
• Night vision goggles. Allow us to see more clearly when flying at night or when there are low light levels.
• Super night scanner search lights.
About OSF HealthCare’s Air-Medical Transport Programs
OSF Saint Francis Life Flight (Peoria, Illinois) and OSF Saint Anthony Lifeline (Rockford, Illinois) programs are 24-hour helicopter air-medical transport services. These teams of physicians, nurses, pilots and mechanics average 2,200 patient transfers each year, making them a part of the busiest aeromedical operation unit in the State of Illinois. The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis have led the way in air-medical transport helicopter service in Illinois since 1981, and together, OSF HealthCare’s Life Flight and Lifeline services combine to be one of the premier flight programs in the United States.