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​STAT MedEvac Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Life-Saving Air Transport

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PITTSBURGH, Oct. 2, 2014STAT MedEvac started with just one helicopter, known as Angel One, with the idea of getting critically ill and injured patients to care more quickly. Today, as it celebrates 30 years, the largest medical transport service in western Pennsylvania has grown to a fleet of 17 helicopters staffed by more than 160 nurses, paramedics and physicians who annually go on more than 9,900 missions to help people in western and central Pennsylvania, parts of Ohio and the West Virginia panhandle.

“The work of STAT MedEvac is primarily about saving lives, but we’ve also helped advance research into critical injury and illness with our academic partners at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Doug Garretson, president and chief executive officer of STAT MedEvac. "We are proud of the outstanding work by the pilots, paramedics, flight nurses and the staff who are so dedicated to this operation.”

The highly skilled staff for each flight includes a pilot, certified flight registered nurse and certified flight paramedic. The average medical provider has been with STAT for seven years and practicing for more than 12 years.

STAT MedEvac carries state-of-the-art technology to provide critical care during transport. Teams are equipped with intensive care devices such as cardiac pumps and heart bypass machines, advanced ventilators, medication pumps and monitors for measuring blood pressure, heart function and pressure around the brain.

“The communications equipment—radios and cellular and satellite phones—are especially important because they give the crew access to a dedicated emergency physician who is providing advice and orders from our command center in Pittsburgh,” said Frank Guyette, M.D., medical director of STAT MedEvac.

STAT MedEvac is operated by the Center for Emergency Medicine (CEM) of western Pennsylvania, part of UPMC, and has helicopters stationed throughout the region, including Altoona and York. CEM owns and maintains the aircraft and is a certified Federal Aviation Administration carrier, which is rare among medical helicopter programs. Its infrastructure is like that of a small airline, with over 400 employees including pilots, mechanics, aviation and communication specialists, educators and administrators.

“Maintaining the operational capabilities is as important to us as the medical equipment. The aircraft flies at about 2 miles per minute in a straight line to the incident location and then to the hospital. It is not limited by traffic, tunnels or rough terrain. That reduced transport time is critical to a patient who needs urgent trauma care,” Mr. Garretson added.