Guidelines for Helicopter Utilization

**Rotor wing services can only be requested by Hospitals or Police, Fire, EMS  agencies through established communications procedures.


FLIGHT REQUESTS: 1-888-637-2935

Mercy Flight Western New York has several aircraft available waiting to respond if needed.  Studies have shown that with critically ill or injured patients, the reduction in out of hospital time leads to better patient outcomes.  We rely on our Police, Fire, EMS and hospital partners to provide early notification of our aircraft to benefit the patient by having an aircraft ready to go and on the way.  

Our helicopters should be used when it will significantly reduce the transport time of critically ill or injured patients to a specialty care center.  Additionally, our helicopters should be used if the specialized services offered by the Mercy Flight medical team would benefit the patient prior to arrival at the destination facility.  The added benefit of using a helicopter is the point-to-point aspect versus ground transport which can be delayed due to traffic, road construction etc.  Unfortunately, weather plays a large factor in the availability of a helicopter.  As weather conditions at the scene or sending facility may be appropriate, dependent on location of the responding aircraft or areas in between, the weather may not be cooperative in allowing a safe flight.

Below you will find general guidelines on utilization of air medical services.  Police, Fire, EMS and hospital personnel can receive specific training on aircraft and landing zone safety and utilization guidelines by attending a Ground Crew Safety Training course.

 

SCENE Response

  • GCS < 13 (pt does not follow commands) or loss of consciousness > 5 minutes with altered mental status at time of exam or thereafter
  • Signs and symptoms of shock (rapid heart rate; altered mental status; cool, clammy, pale skin)
  • Traumatic Injuries (degloving, flail chest, major amputation, multi-system trauma, pelvic fractures, skull fractures, spinal cord injuries or paralysis, 2 or more long bone fractures or open fractures)
  • Penetrating injuries to the chest, abdomen, head, neck or groin
  • Burns greater than 15% or involving the face and airway or combined with traumatic injuries
  • Falls > 20 feet in adults or > 10 feet in patients age 12 or younger
  • Hypothermia
  • Airway Compromise either actual or potential
  • Abnormal Vital Signs  (Systolic blood pressure <90, Respiratory rate <10 or >35, Heart rate <50 or >130)
  • High Speed MVA or Rollover MVA
  • Prolonged extrication exceeding 30 minutes
  • Fatality within the same vehicle or ejection from the same vehicle
  • Intrusion into the passenger compartment of vehicle > 12 inches
  • Pedestrians struck by a vehicle traveling 20mph or greater
  • Suspected acute stroke when patient's expected arrival at a comprehensive Stroke Center would be within 2 hours of symptom onset
  • Suspected acute myocardial infarction with EKG findings


INTERFACILITY Response

  • Critical Care Advanced Life Support exceeds routine use of cardiac monitor, oxygen and IV fluid maintenance or a specialty-care environment is required that cannot be provided by ground ambulance.
  • Patient's condition requires transfer to an institution with a higher level of care and air-medical transport would significantly reduce the"out of hospital" and transport time.
  • Patient needs emergent cardiac catheterization.
  • Patient is an adult requiring Advanced Life Support with a history of unstable vital signs.
  • Patient is a high-risk mother requiring transfer to a regional perinatal center.
  • Patient is a high-risk infant requiring the expertise of the regional neonatal transport team.
  • Patient is an infant or child requiring Pediatric Advanced Life Support with a history of unstable vital signs.
  • Physicians may request that a patient be transferred between medical facilities by helicopter in order to minimize "out of hospital" time or when the appropriate level of care cannot be provided by ground ambulance