Second MedLink AIR helicopter ready to fly
MedLink AIR, Gundersen Health System's emergency and critical care air transport service, will permanently add a second helicopter to provide the best emergency care for our region.
Stephanie Hill, Gundersen MedLink AIR
Gundersen has been leasing a second helicopter since June 2016 on trial basis. Stephanie Hill, program director for MedLink AIR, says Gundersen will continue to lease until the new helicopter is purchased and ready for service and additional crew members are hired and trained.
One of only five emergency medical helicopter services headquartered in Wisconsin accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems, MedLink AIR can be airborne in minutes to serve communities in southwest Wisconsin, northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota.
"We have seen steady growth since MedLink AIR began in 1992," Stephanie says. "We transported more than 550 patients in our region in 2016. Permanently adding a second helicopter will give us better patient outcomes for time-critical emergencies such as stroke, heart attack and trauma."
When the new helicopter and crews are ready by the end of 2017, the two helicopters will likely be permanently based outside La Crosse—one at the Decorah (Iowa) Airport and one at the Sparta-Fort McCoy (Wisc.) Airport.
Until that time, Gundersen will continue with the same two-helicopter coverage that was used during the trial period.
Stephanie says both helicopters will be in service 24 hours a day, seven days a week to:
- Better cover our entire service area
- Handle greater volume of flights from regional hospitals and accident scenes
- In most cases, shorten response times, especially for some of the more remote locations
- Improve patient outcomes for time-critical emergencies
"This is great news for the communities who have supported this service for many years," Stephanie continues. "We're excited to have another option to bring the best care directly to people where they live, when they need it most."