By Ken Little
New Hanover Regional Medical Center has expanded its AirLink program with the addition of a second helicopter for the air ambulance service.
The move was done to better serve the hospital system’s seven-county region, hospital officials said.
By stationing the EC135 T2 helicopters in Onslow and Columbus counties, health providers will be able to cut response times and deliver critical care and air ambulance services to patients who suffer a traumatic illness or injury.
“New Hanover County residents are fortunate to live close to a trauma center. Our VitaLink [ground transport] and EMS crews can get a patient to the hospital within the critical window for care,” Jack Barto, president and CEO of New Hanover Regional, said in a news release. “People’s lives depend on how quickly they can get to the care they need – whether it’s here or another specialized facility outside the region. This dual aircraft model will allow us to save precious time in emergencies when every minute counts.”
New Hanover Regional’s AirLink helicopter and pilots are provided by Air Methods Corporation, and the medical crew is provided by the hospital. The team provides transport services for patients with traumatic injuries, stroke, cardiac events, high-risk obstetrics and pediatric emergencies.
As part of New Hanover Regional, the AirLink program receives no local tax dollars.
The AirLink helicopter is staffed by medical personnel “who receive hundreds of hours of critical care transport training,” John Popella, director of critical care transport at the hospital, said in the release.
“We can actually begin intensive care for the patient while in flight. Being able to provide this kind of care, in addition to the convenience of stationing the helicopters in Onslow and Columbus counties, will complement the services already provided to residents in the area,” Popella said.