Safety Before, During & Always
All of the Staff for Life helicopters are equipped with safety systems, such as night vision goggles, terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), advanced global positioning systems (GPS) and avionics to help our pilots and crews arrive quickly and safely.
The Staff 1 helicopter is an MD 900 helicopter that is instrument flight (IFR) capable, which permits expanded use in some types of inclement weather. The unique design of the NOTAR system enhances safety by eliminating the risk of contact with a tail rotor. The EC130 aircraft also enhances safety due to an enclosed tail rotor system. Both of these systems offer reduced noise levels making them more environmentally friendly than aircraft with standard tail rotors.
The Staff for Life Helicopter Service is one of the only air medical helicopter services in the state to carry two units of packed red blood cells on every flight. For patients requiring rapid infusion because of an accident, internal injury or severe medical condition, this blood may be used to prolong the survival of the patient prior to arrival to the hospital.
In-flight portable ultrasound allows the team to rapidly detect some internal injuries and create tailored treatment plans based on those findings. It permits the skilled nurses and paramedics a view inside the body not otherwise readily available in the field.
Laboratory Quality Blood Testing
The in-flight portable lab testing capability empowers our medical clinicians to assess and treat complex patients comprehensively. This information can assist hospital staff in earlier treatment plans and actions.
Advanced Respiratory Care
The top-tier ventilators carried on the aircraft are capable of ICU-quality respiratory support as well as provide settings for bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). These flexible setting medical tools give our teams the ability to adjust to the level of care needed to meet a patient’s changing condition.
Balloon Pump Transport
The Staff for Life Helicopter Service uses the state of the art Maquet CardioSave Balloon pump for inter-facility transports for critical heart patients. Staff at referring facilities will place an intra-aortic balloon pump to help assist and preserve the patient’s heart function until he or she can be transported to a higher-level facility like MU Healthcare to undergo cardiothoracic surgery. These types of transports require skill and experience. Our team trains to maintain the level necessary to see these patients to their destination.
Initial management and coordination of emergency transfer for a patient experiencing a heart attack or STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction), improves a patient's chance of survival. The Staff for Life Helicopter Service’s medical team is extensively trained and experienced in reading and interpreting 12-lead EKGs in transport. This capability allows the air medical team to contact local hospitals to activate their cardiac catheterization lab team, reducing the time from the patient’s onset of a heart attack to the time of coronary intervention. This decreases the length of time the heart muscle goes without oxygen, and improves patients’ survival and overall outcome.
“Time is brain.” According to the American Stroke Association and National Institutes of Health, the two most important steps in successfully treating a stroke are early identification and rapid transport to a certified Stroke Treatment Center.
A 2006 study in Stroke Journal indicated that, “Quantitative estimates of the pace of neural circuitry loss in human ischemic stroke emphasize the time urgency of stroke care. The typical patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute in which stroke is untreated.”
The Staff for Life Helicopter Service is part of a coordinated effort within MU Health Care and other qualified Stroke Centers across Missouri to expedite patient transport and treatment. The Staff for Life crews participate in extra training on the importance of early notification of stroke teams to improve outcomes. Our goal is to facilitate the quickest response possible and streamline the process for the receiving stroke center so that brain-saving therapies can begin the moment our helicopter arrives.
In partnership with the Children’s Hospital Transport Service, the Staff for Life Helicopter Service provides a highly specialized team of neonatal intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists to transport babies weighing less than 15 pounds.
The Children’s Hospital Transport Service team will arrive at facilities that lack the nurseries to care for critically ill infants and transport these fragile patients to receive the highest level of newborn and infant care at the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Training, Education and Outreach
The Staff for Life team members attend monthly training and chart review sessions in order to assure quality care is meeting the highest standards. Physician involvement creates an interdisciplinary environment where ideas and knowledge can be shared. Critical skills are taught and practiced during quarterly live tissue and Human Patient Simulation training. Monthly meetings and bi-yearly aircraft drills keep crews focused on safety and pair well with a multitude of required computer-based trainings that highlight all aspects of helicopter operations.
Our nurses, paramedics, physicians and support staff conduct frequent educational opportunities for partnering emergency services and the general public. They teach classes from basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to advanced trauma care and landing zone preparations. The Helicopter Service team members also participate in community activities and demonstrations.