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October 29, 2001


Three Emory Flight Helicopters Take Wing Across Georgia

Emory Healthcare has signed an agreement with Rocky Mountain Helicopters, effective Thursday, October 25, to assume medical oversight for three specially equipped A-star 350 helicopters based in Griffin, Jefferson and Cartersville.

Designed as airborne critical care units with a cruising speed of 140 miles per hour, the helicopters are on 24-hour standby to lift critically ill and injured patients from a 150 mile radius around these communities to the closest appropriate hospital. While Rocky Mountain has offered medical transport services in these communities over the last 18 years, most recently as LifeNet, the new agreement joins the country's oldest and most experienced provider of helicopter medical transport services to the state's largest and most comprehensive healthcare system. This includes Emory's extensive emergency medicine and related patient care and healthcare personnel training programs. In fact, Emory physicians and the medical staff of the Emory Flight helicopters will also be actively engaged in continuing education of health providers in North Georgia about the newest advances in emergency medical response.

Each of the newly named Emory Flight helicopters is staffed by a pilot, nurse and paramedic and linked through advanced technology communications to physician specialists in the receiving hospital or facility. The decision as to where the patient will be transported (whether or not the closest appropriate facility is part of Emory Healthcare) will be based on medical needs and the request of the referring physician or EMS personnel.

Medical director of the Emory Flight program is Alexander Isakov, M.D., an experienced flight physician and assistant professor in Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Isakov received his residency training in emergency medicine from University of Massachusetts Medical Center, then completed two years advanced training at Boston EMS, which handles 911 responses for the city of Boston. He was a flight physician with the University of Massachusetts LifeFlight Program for five years and spent four years in the U.S. Navy in operational medical support. He remains active in the Navy Reserve.

Dr. Isakov says, "The beauty of the Emory Flight program is that, thanks to the highly sophisticated crew and on-board technology, protocols are implemented and care begins the moment the helicopter sets down in the place from which the patient is being moved."
  • The nurse and paramedic who accompany patients are highly trained in critical care, with additional training provided on an ongoing basis by Emory's Department of Emergency Medicine and other medical specialties represented within Emory Healthcare. They also are in constant contact with physicians during transportation of the patient.
  • Each of the A-Star helicopters is outfitted with technology for aggressive monitoring, including pulse oximetry and invasive and noninvasive hemodynamic monitors. This means physicians waiting on the ground have vital information in hand when the patient arrives. Other technology enables intensive patient care, including ventilators and airway management supplies.

"Emory Flight is another step in Emory Healthcare's efforts to provide the broadest spectrum of care possible to our region of the country," says John Fox, president of Emory Healthcare. "We believe this agreement is good for Georgia. These services enhance the capabilities of local emergency medical service responders and healthcare in the state, especially in situations where rapid access to definitive care has been shown to improve health outcomes."

"Rocky Mountain Helicopters is excited about the opportunity to augment Emory Healthcare's existing high quality specialty services," says Gail Helmly, RN, program director for Rocky Mountain Helicopters. She adds, "Emory Healthcare's reputation in the community for outstanding service brings increased capability to an already successful air medical transport program."

Emory Healthcare comprises those components of Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center dedicated to patient care: The Emory Clinic, Emory Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Crawford Long Hospital, Wesley Woods Center, the jointly owned Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, LLC, a limited liability company created in collaboration with HCA-the Healthcare Company. The Emory Healthcare Affiliate Network comprises an additional 47 hospitals representing 66 communities and more than 6,000 physicians throughout Georgia.

Rocky Mountain Helicopters has been associated with the air medical industry for over 25 years. It was the provider of choice of the first aeromedical transport program in the United States, located in Denver, Colorado. Rocky Mountain Helicopters continues to lead the industry as the nation's largest provider of both the traditional hospital based aeromedical program and the stand alone, or alternative provider services program. It currently operates aircraft at 59 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and currently employs over 750 personnel nationwide, including medical staff.


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