LifeFlight Helps Fly Hurricane Hospital Evacuees

Posted at 3:42 PM, Sep 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-14 12:46:43-04

East coast hospitals in the path of Hurricane Florence evacuated hundreds of patients this week before the storm makes landfall.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center LifeFlight teamed up with Air Methods --- the nation's largest air medical services provider --- to transport five patients away from the coast using their LifeFlight medical plane.

LifeFlight and hospitals from four other states helped fly patients to hospitals in Spartanburg, South Carolina or Jacksonville, Florida. 

Air Medical Transport Program Manager Keith Evans worked non-stop flying with patients to available hospitals.

"Yesterday they were able to bring the patients to the airport. So within 15 minutes of them arriving to the airport we were able to put them on to our aircraft, get them hooked up to our monitors, our ventilator, close up and take off," he said. 

Evans said hospitals coordinated days ahead of time where to send medical planes. Dispatch centers then told planes where to land.

"Once we land at that airport, we can do one of two things. Yesterday, they brought us the mass casualty bus so they brought the patients to us. But other things can transpire. We land there get on an ambulance and they drive us to the hospital," he said.

Evans said the patients are thankful to be moved out of harm's way.

"It's been very heart-warming and also very emotional in that we are taking patients from their home hospitals to other parts within the state or other states and they're being displaced from their families," 

Life Net of New York, Air Rescue Idaho, Air Methods Valdosta Georgia, Air EMS Phoenix Arizona, and Vanderbilt Life Flight all participated with Hurricane Florence Relief efforts.