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Beaumont, University of Michigan Health System expand helicopter transportation service

Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, Mich., has joined the helicopter emergency transportation club in Southeast Michigan and Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan Health System has replaced its three aging helicopters.

Earlier this week, Beaumont began to offer its own emergency helicopter ambulance services – Beaumont One – to transport critically ill patients, work with law enforcement agencies and provide additional support for its expanded organ transplant program.

Beaumont has contracted with Phoenix-based PHI Air Medical to offer the helicopter service that will be based at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The twin-engine EC135 helicopter will transport patients within Michigan and northern Ohio.


"Beaumont One will give residents, referring physicians and law enforcement agencies quicker access to complex medical care and the only level one trauma center in Oakland and Macomb counties," said Patrick Pettengill, M.D., emergency medicine specialist and Beaumont One medical director, in a statement.

The University of Michigan's UM Survival Flight service has leased three new helicopters – maize-and-blue American Eurocopter EC155s – to replace Bell 430 air ambulances that have been in service since 1998. The university will lease the helicopters from Pentastar Aviation, which operates charter aircraft at Oakland County Airport.

UM will use its air ambulances to transport critically ill patients and organs needed for transplantation to Ann Arbor and other locations. The university's 29-year-old air ambulance program is the oldest in Michigan, said UM.

The new helicopters are equipped with advanced equipment and safety features, including the ability to fly in low-visibility conditions. They have nearly 50 percent more cabin space for nurses and patients and an all-glass cockpit. Their range is 500 miles, enabling them to fly as far as Syracuse, N.Y., or Louisville, Ky., without refueling.

While Beaumont has collaborated with area air medical transportation services in the past, Beaumont One will be its first dedicated, full-time flight service based at Beaumont, officials said.

A recent study showed that patients seriously injured and flown by helicopter to a level one or level two trauma center have a 16 percent higher rate of survival at level one centers and 15 percent higher for level two centers.


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