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New Life Flight lands at PMC

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Jun 24 2013 07:48:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 25 2013 12:10:34 PM CDT

Portneuf Medical Center gets new EMS helicopter.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

A world-renowned lifesaving tool has landed at the Portneuf Medical Center.

The Koala A119 is replacing the older Augusta helicopter as the new EMS chopper.

Tom Mortimer is the base manager for Life Flight 81 in Pocatello, and said this is one of the fastest EMS helicopters in the nation, and is the first of its kind in the entire world.

"We are super excited to have this aircraft here," Mortimer said. "It is enhanced for safety, speed, and power."

Mortimer said they like to refer to the Italian-made helicopter as their Ferrari, with its speed and power blanketed by its smooth ride.

The Koala comes with brand new state-of-the-art equipment and the PMC is the first facility that gets the opportunity to use it before anyone else.

As compared to the old Life Flight helicopter, this new one has one large engine versus the two the previous one had. It also has a high-tech GPS called the Garmin 1000 which is specifically made for aviation, and this is the first rescue helicopter to use it. The system shows you the terrain, weather conditions, and how to take alternate routes to certain areas that the previous helicopter would not pick up on.

"We can know what areas to avoid. If we are trying to get to somebody, we can fly around those (hazardous areas) and still get to them rather than saying, 'We're not going to try,'" Mortimer said.

He said the new Life Flight will increase the safety for both the EMS personnel and the patients. 

The new helicopter will also cut down rescue times by about 15 minutes, which will allow them to turn around and head out to another rescue more quickly as well as get the patient back to the hospital in a timely manner.

"Every minute for those people makes a difference," Mortimer noted.

EMS Medical Director Curtis Sandy said this comes in handy, especially during the busy summertime months.

"With trauma season we have a lot of people out in the back country and on ATVs," Sandy said. "We have a lot more activity with accidents and so we will run four or five transports everyday during the summer."

EMS personnel will be able to fly the new helicopter anywhere from Challis, Salmon, Salt Lake City, and even over into western Wyoming. 

Mortimer said it uses less fuel than the previous helicopter and can fly for about three hours before it needs to refuel.

Although the ribbon cutting ceremony took place Monday afternoon, the new Life Flight arrived on June 14 and has already made about 15 rescues.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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