Critical Care Ground Transport

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Critical Care Ground Transport

When LifeFlight aircraft cannot fly because of weather or maintenance needs, our crews must get to the patient by ground. This is the case with 26% of LifeFlight missions currently, and for a variety of reasons that number is expected to increase in the years ahead.

For years, LifeFlight partnered with municipal and private ambulance services to provide ground response: LifeFlight medical teams traveled with a patient in a partner agency’s ambulance. In Fall 2023, LifeFlight launched its Critical Care Ground Transport Program with its own ground ambulances, allowing LifeFlight crews to respond to calls for help more quickly, and keeping partner agency’s ambulances in service to continue serving their local community.

LifeFlight provides the same level of ICU-level critical care for patients in its ground ambulances as it does in its aircraft. LifeFlight crews typically transport patients by ground when:

  • Weather precludes safe flight operation
  • Additional transport resources are needed
  • The aircraft are busy with other patients
  • The safest clinical option is to move the patient by ground

LifeFlight transports around 600 patients per year by ground, including a partnership with the Rosen Neonatal Care Unit Teams at Northern Light EMMC.

The LifeFlight teams work seamlessly across all vehicle types.

Each LifeFlight vehicle is configured to support critical patients including:

  • Advanced ventilators
  • Invasive cardiac and neuro-monitoring
  • Multiple infusion pumps
  • Laboratory
  • Ultrasound
  • An ICU pharmacy
  • Blood and plasma product
  • Advanced resuscitation and trauma care

The vehicles can be reconfigured with specialized newborn transport isolettes, intra-aortic and ventricular assist devices, tandem hearts, and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) for patients needing cardiopulmonary bypass.