University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics' AirCare crew has transported thousands of patients aboard its helicopters over the past 40 years. With a new addition to its air ambulance fleet, the UI can now help patients in even more remote areas of Iowa and the surrounding region.
The hospital's emergency department recently began deploying a single-engine airplane to transport patients who need specialized care, including premature newborns and people with serious injuries or illnesses. The plane has a 700-mile travel radius, which is significantly farther than the helicopter's 125-mile range. The aircraft also has room for a family member to ride alongside the patient, more space for life-saving equipment and personnel, and can fly in weather conditions that might otherwise ground the helicopter. Although the helicopter is stationed atop the hospital, the plane flies from airport to airport, with a ground ambulance then transporting patients to the hospital.
The university's AirCare program began in 1979, when it became the first emergency air medical program in Iowa and one of only 15 nationally. UI Hospitals & Clinics operates and maintains its aircraft through a partnership with AirMethods, a national medical transportation company.