MU Health Care's Air Medical Service was the first in the region to carry blood products on board each aircraft; two units of packed red blood cells are available on every flight. Additionally, two units of plasma are available aboard MU1 and MU2. Medical literature continues to demonstrate a survival benefit from early, pre-hospital transfusion in cases of shock due to suspected or confirmed bleeding.
In-flight portable ultrasound allows the team to rapidly detect internal injuries and create tailored treatment plans based on those findings. It permits the skilled nurses and paramedics a view inside the body, one not usually available to pre-hospital providers.
Laboratory-Quality Blood Testing
The in-flight portable lab testing capability empowers our clinicians to assess and treat complex patients. Acid-base balance, effectiveness of pulmonary care, electrolyte problems, and bleeding are just a few things that can be identified using this technology. Physicians can use this information to more rapidly assess trends and adjust treatment after arrival at the hospital.
Advanced Respiratory Care
The top-tier ventilators carried on the aircraft are capable of ICU-quality respiratory support with settings for bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). These flexible settings give our teams the ability to meet a patient’s changing needs.
Balloon Pump Transport
MU Air Medical Service uses the Maquet CardioSave® balloon pump. Staff at referring facilities will place an intra-aortic balloon pump to assist cardiac function and preserve muscle until more definitive care can be provided. These types of transports require skill and experience. Our team trains to maintain the level necessary to see these patients safely 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. MU Health Care's medical team is extensively trained and experienced in reading and interpreting 12-lead EKGs in transport. The team can contact the receiving hospital to activate their cardiac catheterization lab, reducing the time from symptom onset to coronary intervention. This reduction often directly correlates to less heart muscle damage and improved functional survival.
“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 noted “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.” MU Air Medical Service is part of a coordinated effort within MU Health Care and other qualified Stroke Centers across Missouri to expedite patient transport and treatment. 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 Critical Care Transport Service (CHCCTS), the program provides a highly specialized team of neonatal intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists to transport babies weighing less than 15 pounds. The CHCCTS 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
MU Health Care's Air Medical Service team members attend monthly training and case review sessions to assure our care is meeting the highest standards. Physician-led discussions create an interdisciplinary environment where ideas and knowledge can be shared. Critical skills are taught and practiced during quarterly 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. Team members also participate in community activities and demonstrations for interested civic groups.