Lifeguard Flights


#1

Just thought it was cool to see three lifeguard flights airborne out of South Florida all at once, all to different cities. Two out of KPBI and one out of KBCT. God Speed!


#2

As a crew member aboard a Lifeguard aircraft, I want to say “thanks” for watching out for us. :slight_smile:

–spud–:slight_smile:


#3

Any time. You guys are the greatest. So Spud, How much heads up time do you get that your going on one of these flights? I assume it varies. Give us an idea.


#4

LOL… Good question. Really, it is variable. Typically 4-5 hours. Sometimes one hour, sometimes up to 24.

I guess I can give y’all a little lesson on how we work:

Let’s suppose you are on vacation someplace distant from your home. You are driving a rented car, and BOOM!- You get smacked at an intersection. You end up with pretty serious injuries. Let’s assume you have a smashed pelvis, broken legs, perhaps a torn spleen, ect. You get admitted to the local hospital and they begin care to stabilize you.

It is then that your insurance company gets involved. They are going to look at the $$ signs. They are going to explore the possibity of you having to spend weeks, or even months in the hospital there. Perhaps you need multiple surgeries, rehab, therapy, etc…

The bean counters at the insurance company then begin to crunch the numbers and determine what is going to be cheaper in the long run: Paying the hospital where you are for services, or flying you (at a cost of $10-20k intercontinentally) back to a hospital where they have contractual services.

If, in the long run, it is cheaper for them to fly you back to a contracted hospital, they will then contact one of several brokers in the country who in turn then fax out requests for bids. There are approximately 30 companies across the US who do these flights. Most are local (up to 500 miles), but some (like my company) do long distance national and international flights. The brokers then go with low bid.

Hope that makes sense. Again, thanks for the recognition, and thanks for graciously stepping aside for us when we get our priority handling.

–spud–:slight_smile:


#5

Thanks for the info, spud. It’s really interesting. I hope you don’t mind a few further questions.

First, an easy one. Have you ever transported a patient from one of the many small villages in isolated, northern Alaska? Where do they go? Anchorage? or beyond?

Second, I have a cousin who flies out of Colorado. As I understand it, they fly transplant organs from donor city to recipient city, probably with absolutely minimal advance notice. Are those considered Lifeguard flights?

Finally, I have an interest in MedEvac helicopters that transport patients from an accident scene to a trauma center. Occasionally they have a flight range of 200 miles or more. I’ve never recognized one of those helicopter flights here on FlightAware. Are those flights always VFR? Can you file a flight plan to a hospital helipad? Is it an ATC-recognized destination? I’d love to track those locally with just a 6-minute delay.


#6

Hey, thanks for the interest.

First, an easy one. Have you ever transported a patient from one of the many small villages in isolated, northern Alaska? Where do they go? Anchorage? or beyond?

Personally, I have never been to Northern Alaska. I know we have gone to Kotzebue. I have been to the Aleutian Islands- Adak, in particular. Most of the patients that are transported from there are taken to Anchorage. There are some local LG planes up there that do those. However, whenever we are called, we go to transport them farther (We have long-range Lear 36’s). We normally take them to Seattle.

Second, I have a cousin who flies out of Colorado. As I understand it, they fly transplant organs from donor city to recipient city, probably with absolutely minimal advance notice. Are those considered Lifeguard flights?

My company doesn’t do those (we don’t have the contract anymore), but it is my understanding that they are LG designated flights.

Finally, I have an interest in MedEvac helicopters that transport patients from an accident scene to a trauma center. Occasionally they have a flight range of 200 miles or more. I’ve never recognized one of those helicopter flights here on FlightAware. Are those flights always VFR? Can you file a flight plan to a hospital helipad? Is it an ATC-recognized destination? I’d love to track those locally with just a 6-minute delay.

I don’t do rotorhead stuff. :slight_smile: However, I called a buddy of mine who does and he told me that with a patient on board, they can only fly VFR. They can fly IFR without the patient. Still, he told me that the helicopter pilots are ultra-cautious these days due to some bad decisions made by pilots in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Because of that, they almost fly exclusively VFR. If the flight would call for IFR, they won’t take it.

–spud–:slight_smile: