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Helicopter takes off to saves lives

Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight's Europcopter EC 135 medically configured helicopter based in Kona (Photo courtesy Hawaii Air Ambulance)

Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight's Europcopter EC 135 medically configured helicopter based in Kona (Photos courtesy Hawaii Air Ambulance)

Air ambulance services racket up

As the final part of a three phase expansion, Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight is basing a Europcopter EC 135 medically configured helicopter in Kona.

They conducted a dedication and blessing ceremony Dec. 15 at the Kona Community Hospital helipad.

The helicopter, N153MH will be based at the Kona International Airport and has the capacity to fly patients all the way to Oahu.

“The focus of the helicopter and its crew is inter-hospital transportation,” said Robert Griffith, Hawaii Life Flight/Hawaii Air Ambulance Chief Flight Nurse. “But in time we hope to assist with 911 calls.”

The helicopter cost $7 million, which includes the outfitting necessary to turn it into a flying intensive care unit.

“This helicopter has all the bells and whistles for performance and safety,” said Bob Sadler, Hawaii Air Ambulance director of operations. “It has top of the line avionics and safety equipment including night vision goggles. We spared no expense to insure this rotor would serve the people of Hawaii while keeping our crews safe.”

The helicopter is safe, reliable and powerful, said Eric Niven, Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight marketing communications director.

“It is considered to be one of the most efficient and versatile light twin-engine, multi-mission helicopters in its class. Its excellent safety record is due to its simplicity of design, ease of operation and redundant systems. And with its unique and safer Fenestron tail rotor, the EC 135 is also the quietest helicopter in its class,” Niven said.

 

The first expansion phase on the Big Island involved basing a fixed wing air ambulance in Hilo, which has been in operation for two years.

The second phase included basing another fixed wing aircraft and crew in Waimea, which was opened in August.

Before Hawaii Air Ambulance came under new management in 2006, all the aircraft in service were older fixed-wing, piston driven models and were based on Oahu.

The new Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight management team believes they provide safer, faster service by basing on the various islands, thus eliminating the flight time from Oahu.

Since taking over operations, the new management team has expanded lts fleet to five aircraft. These aircraft are newer turbine powered KingAir C90B models with advanced avionics, and they are based in Lihue, Kahului, Hilo and Waimea. The fifth aircraft is a back up for rotation and compliance with FAA aircraft maintenance schedules.

The addition of a new helicopter in Kona brings the fleet to six aircraft and active bases to five.

“We have had an aircraft and crew stationed in Hilo, serving the people of the Big Island for over two years now,” Guillermo said. “After basing this first aircraft, we knew we would ultimately need to base additional aircraft to insure complete and efficient emergency air transport coverage, which is why we initiated the three phase expansion.”

Hawaii Air Ambulance has been serving the people of Hawaii, providing air ambulances services for almost 30 years.

Since coming under management of Joseph Hunt, the resident of the new Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight, it has increased the number and quality of aircraft, based these aircraft in close proximity to main hospitals on the islands, significantly raised the hiring bar for medical staff and pilots and has acquired state of the art equipment in providing training and expanding life saving capabilities.

Hawai Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight's helicopter doors open to allow loading of patient and stretcher.

Hawai Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight's helicopter doors open to allow loading of patient and stretcher.

For more information on Hawaii Air Ambulance/Hawaii Life Flight programs or information on the Hawaii Air Ambulance Membership Program, which eliminates the deductible or co-payment, check out the Web site at www.hiairamb.com or call (808) 833-2270.

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