North Santa Rosa

LifeFlight Celebrates 35 Years

Baptist LifeFlight Celebrates 35 Years of Service

On May 14 Baptist LifeFlight will celebrate the 35 th anniversary of the first patient flight.

In 1977, Baptist became the third hospital in the United States to add a medically staffed helicopter to its arsenal of life saving tools. Because of the vision and commitment Baptist had to the citizens of northwest Florida, the leaders of Baptist Hospital understood how important this service would be for our region. In geographical areas such as ours where an injured person can be isolated away from a hospital by bridges, large bodies of water and limited roadways rapid transport can mean the difference between life and death. The helicopter is staffed with a critical care nurse and a specially trained paramedic to begin the advanced care as soon as they arrive to the scene. Patient care begins immediately upon arrival and transport to the hospital is swift to help ensure a better outcome for the patient.

For instance, an ambulance transport for a seriously ill or injured person at Fort Pickens beach can take up to 30 minutes or longer to arrive at a hospital in Pensacola, but the medical transport provided by LifeFlight shaves off about 25 minutes.

Over the 35 year history of the program LifeFlight has expanded into other areas in the region where air transport was needed but not available. Currently, LifeFlight operates four helicopter bases located in northwest Florida, southern parts of Alabama and Mississippi. Last year, LifeFlight transported 2,183 patients. The air ambulance is fully funded by Baptist Hospital and individuals who make donations through the Baptist Health Care Foundation. The program does not receive any government funding or subsidies.

In addition to providing emergency transport from the scene of an accident or the home of someone experiencing a medical emergency, LifeFlight also transports patients between small community based hospitals. Hospitals with limited specialty services and large urban hospitals with advance capabilities allow patients in rural areas to have rapid access to the highest levels of care. LifeFlight has been instrumental in disaster response providing rapid transport after Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis when damaged bridges and blocked roadways prevented ambulances from reaching injured people. The program also assisted after Hurricane Katrina providing for evacuation of new Orleans hospitals and delivering food and water into the city.

The 85 current crew members and past crew members who have served in the LifeFlight program over the years are honored and feel privileged to be part of one of America’s first air medical programs. The consistent vision and commitment of this life-saving program will benefit our region for years to come.

For more information on Baptist LifeFlight, visit or call 850.434.4080.


Posted by on May 13 2012. Filed under Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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