Top of the line helicopter will now take flight for Mercyhealth - – Rockford’s News Leader

Top of the line helicopter will now take flight for Mercyhealth


Mercyhealth is rolling out a new helicopter with some major upgrades that will improve patient care while in the air.

This time of the year is known as trauma season and one of the busiest times for hospitals. The life-saving helicopters in our area will be working full time to ensure patient lives are saved.

"When we get called for a patient flight, it's because that patient is in dire need of a critical care transplant," REACT Lead Pilot Clark Pollard said.

This new chopper has special features to help better serve air transport patients, like a larger cabin area. The past helicopter allowed for three people on the medic team, a pilot and two medics on board.

"When you start talking about patient care, the cabin on it is a touch small," Pollard said.

Now, the helicopter allows for an additional medic or doctor to board the flight and assist in treating the critical patient. This will allow the aircraft to better support a wider variety of missions, and deliver specialized care to women and children.

"To be able to support treatment of at-risk pregnancies where we do have that capability to bring along an obstetrician if necessary," Pollard said.

On average, Mercyhealth's REACT helicopter takes flight around 300 times, which is why during one of Mercyhealth's busiest times of the year, this new helicopter will be a large benefit to the community and those patients it will be serving.

"There's some days there are three or four flights, some days it depends on weather and depends on the situation," REACT Medical Director John Pakiela said.

This new ED-145 helicopter also comes with some benefits to the pilot and crew. It's now equipped with night vision, so the pilot is able to navigate to an emergency when it's dark outside.

 "We fly with the same military grade MVG's that Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy fly with," Pollard said.

The new chopper has been in service for one week and has already been used in a training exercise in Stephenson County to transport a NICU baby.

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