THE STATS

Twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207C engines

Length: 38 feet 3 inches (8 inches longer than older aircraft, offering the crew more space to work)

Capacity: 4 crew and 1 patient

Maximum cruising speed: 150 knots/173 mph (15 knots/17 mph faster than the last helicopter)

Round-trip flight from Bangor to Presque Isle is about 15 minutes faster

Round-trip flight from Lewiston to Boston is about 15 minutes faster

UPDATED AVIONICS

“The recurring theme with the new aircraft and all the upgraded avionics is safety and reliability,” said LifeFlight of Maine Communication Director Melissa Arndt. “The aircraft allows us to fly more missions and care for more patients.”

Examples include:

  • 4-axis autopilot (pitch, roll, yaw and power) – older aircraft had a 3-axis autopilot (pitch, roll and yaw). The 4-axis autopilot allows for more precise navigation, which translates to safer operations.
  • Fully digital glass cockpit — moving maps, weather radar, terrain and traffic avoidance systems
  • WAAS-assisted (wide area augmentation system) satellite navigation: This tool allows the aircraft to tap into the next generation of  navigation capabilities available in the air traffic control system, meaning pilots now have more options to safely answer a call by using more precise navigation.

MEDICAL INTERIOR

“We like to think of the helicopter as a flying ICU; we have all of the same capabilities as a hospital ICU, but we’re mobile, we can bring it directly to the patient’s bedside,” said Arndt. “Ventilators, invasive cardiac monitoring, multiple infusion medications, pharmacy, blood, bedside laboratory, ultrasound.”

Examples include:

  • Advanced ventilators can be adjusted to control the rate of breathing, the percentage of oxygen being delivered, the amount of pressure being used to inflate the lungs, and the inhalation and exhalation time for each breath.
  • i-STAT blood analysis: With a small blood sample, the i-STAT delivers critical information about the patient’s condition in just 2 or 3 minutes. The results provide a real-time picture of how the patient is responding to treatments.
  • Precision ultrasound: “We use the ultrasound to place lines/difficult IV access,” said Arndt. “This tool lets us see deeper down into the tissue, which is helpful in getting IV access in patients who have low blood pressure. We also use it when we place arterial lines – we can see their arteries really well and see where the needle is going (we place these lines to more accurately monitor the patient’s blood pressure).”
  • Video laryngoscope: a tool to help crew place a breathing tube in a patient in especially complex situations, which makes the procedure safer and more reliable.
  • Special monitors: The monitors diagnose a patient’s essential information so treatments can be modified as necessary. They have been specifically designed for air medical transport – with special attention given to vibration, weight and ease of use in challenging field situations.

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