Clinical Use of Helicopters

Helicopters are fast ambulances, cruising at 125 to 175 mph, depending on the aircraft. They are not limited by traffic or road quality. The usual flight range for a helicopter is 150 to 200 mi. Helicopters bring sophisticated medical care to areas that otherwise might have only basic life support (BLS) ground ambulance service. The air medical crews bring tertiary critical care and transfer patients back to the tertiary center at two to three times the speed of a ground ambulance. The two major types of helicopter missions are trauma/medical scene responses and interfacility transfers. Mission patterns vary widely among flight programs, with the national average in 1997 for scene and interfacility flights being 30 and 70 percent, respectively. 1

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