LifeFlight helicopters are based in various locations throughout the region. Each helicopter is medically equipped and staffed with two specially trained flight nurses and a pilot. LifeFlight nurses have dual certifications as RN's and either a paramedic or PHRN, as well as having other certifications that include ACLS, PALS, NALS, and PHTLS. The pilots are employed by Metro Aviation, Inc.
LifeFlight helicopters operate within a 130-mile radius of Pittsburgh and provide critical care services from either the scene of an accident or health care facility. During each mission, the medical crew is continually in radio contact with an Allegheny General emergency medicine physician.
In determining the need for LifeFlight, hospital and prehospital personnel should consider the patient's medical condition and the need for rapid intervention by the medical staff or the receiving hospital. Consider requesting a LifeFlight transport when the following conditions exist:
The time saved by using a helicopter transport improves the patient's chances of recovery or survival. Weather and road conditions or other factors inhibit use of ground transportation and seriously delay the patient's access to advanced levels of care.
Another available service is critical care ground transport (CCGT). This service may be used when weather conditions prohibit transport by helicopter. Ground transport also may be used when a patient's attending physician believes that a critical care transport is required but air transport is not medically necessary.
Each unit is medically equipped. The ground transport team is composed of contracted ambulance personnel and two Allegheny General flight nurses.
Ground transports best serve hospitals located within one hour's driving distance from LifeFlight helicopter bases. This service may be an effective option for patients covered by managed care companies.
In addition to these services, LifeFlight also provides intra-aortic balloon pump, ECMO and neonatal transports.
Part of LifeFlight's roles is to support area hospitals - not just those of Allegheny Health Network's. Transports to other hospitals in the region are an integral part of LifeFlight's commitment to efficient care. With the exception of trauma patients (who must be taken to accredited regional resource trauma centers) LifeFlight will transport anyone, anywhere within its service area, based upon the needs and wishes of the patient and referring physician.
Metro Aviation, Inc. operates the 5 helicopters in the LifeFlight program.