Health Team

New Duke Life Flight helicopter is bigger, better

Posted November 13, 2012
Updated November 14, 2012

Duke's newest Life Flight helicopter

Duke Hospital’s newest Life Flight helicopter is an intensive care unit in the air that boasts state-of-the-art technology inside.

But the most noticeable change is in the rear hatch.

“What our aircraft has that no other aircraft has is a big 35-and-a-half inch opening here that allows us to carry pretty much any size patient,” said Henry Ward with Duke Emergency Services.

Ward says that's 10 inches more than the old model. The larger hatch also allows a full-sized stretcher.

“And once they're on the stretcher, there's no more transferring the patient from bed to bed, or bed to a stretcher,” Ward said.

Once the patient is secured and the helicopter is in air, there's more room for nurses to help the patient.

“Unlike a lot of aircraft, our nurses have full head-to-toe access to the patient from a seatbelted position,” Ward said.

A crew of two critical care nurses and a pilot is housed just off the flight deck, “so they can come out immediately when there's a call,” he said.

New Duke Life Flight helicopter is bigger, better New Duke Life Flight helicopter is bigger, better

On a recent mission, the crew headed to Jacksonville, N.C., to transfer a newborn in need of Duke's neonatal intensive care.

It was a beautiful day for flying, but the aircraft is equipped to deal with foul weather. There’s a guidance system that helps with flying and landing in low visibility.

“This aircraft is built with every feature that's recommended by the FAA - and then some,” Ward said.

Even when they leave the pad, the air crew is never alone.

“We also have satellite tracking in this aircraft - our communications center downstairs that's watching our every move,” Ward said. “They know everything we do before we do it sometimes.”

Duke’s Life Flight is a large operation dedicated to flight safety first, and now it has the ability to help more patients get the emergency care they need.


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  • Mustange Nov 21, 2012

    This is great!!! Money well spent.

  • blackkawai Nov 20, 2012

    I think it's awesome! God bless these people who strive to save lives and take care of the sick and injured!!

  • uncfan89 Nov 19, 2012

    If you ever need that helicopter, it will be worth every penny!

  • North Carolina Cutie Nov 15, 2012

    No one is ever happy there is always going to be negativity. Nothing is free in this life not even air. So deal with it or transport your self.

  • mcorson2 Nov 15, 2012

    I think its great cuz ya never know!!!

  • 426X3 Nov 14, 2012

    I admire the pilots and crew of these helicopters. I would want them there for me, if I ever needed them.

  • jamesebyerly Nov 14, 2012

    Cstanley...I bet you will be glad they have that nice, new helicopter if you ever crash your car on a foggy night after firefighters have been trying to extricate you for over an hour...everyone wants to complain about things till they need it!

  • TriangleMommy Nov 14, 2012

    Hate to break it to you cstanley but those fees are not new. They have been around a LONG time.

  • cstanley3 Nov 13, 2012

    I hope the new bogus "facility fees" Duke charges make the helicopter worth the millions it costs.