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Published on December 05, 2016

Gundersen clears take off for second MedLink AIR helicopter

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.

The Gundersen Board of Trustees has approved the purchase of a second helicopter. Gundersen has been leasing a second helicopter since June 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.

When the new, second helicopter and crews are ready by the end of 2017, the two helicopters will be permanently based outside La Crosse-one at the Decorah Airport and one at the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport.

Hill 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

Until the purchase is complete and staff is hired and trained, Gundersen will continue with the same two-helicopter coverage that was used during the trial period.

"We have seen steady growth since MedLink AIR began in 1992," Hill says. "As of today, we have transported more than 500 patients in 2016. Permanently adding a second helicopter will give us better patient outcomes for time-critical emergencies such as stroke, heart attack and trauma."

"This is great news for the communities who have supported this service for many years," she continues. “We're excited have another option to bring the best care directly to people where they live, when they need it most."

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