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Business Air News Bulletin
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Helicopter addition keeps OSF Life Flight fully operational
OSF Life Flight is preparing for the arrival of its fifth helicopter and looking forward to opening a permanent base in Whiteside County in Illinois.
The company carries out air ambulance service in the US Midwest logging more than 1,800 flights annually.

Business for the Illinois-headquartered OSF Life Flight team has been steadily increasing, and the distances it flies are getting greater as physicians try to find available hospital beds. This in turn has meant more hours on the aircraft with the consequent knock on effect of increased maintenance.

"For every hour of flight time there is an average of an hour of routine, preventative and unscheduled maintenance to be performed," says OSF Life Flight/OSF Aviation outreach coordinator Jennifer Wilkes, RRT-NPS, C-NPT. "Due to this increase, we have recently purchased a fifth aircraft in order to keep all four bases fully operational at all times. This is expected to arrive in 2024." The incoming aircraft is an enhanced version of the existing fleet models, an H145.

In the last couple of years the company has transitioned from relocating out into the regions, to having permanent bases in Galesburg and Bloomington, in order to provide better access to the patients it serves.

"Our Rockford base is now relocating to Whiteside County during the daytime in order to serve the patients of that area more rapidly," Wilkes adds.

The OSF Life Flight programme is a 24/7 operation with a team consisting of pilots, flight nurses, flight paramedics, flight communication specialists, mechanics and support personnel. The company carries out air ambulance service in the Midwest region of the United States and logs more than 1,800 flights annually with its four American Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters. "These EC145s are regarded as one of the top models available for air medical ambulance utilisation," says Wilkes. "And we have them strategically placed throughout Central and Northern Illinois."

An OSF Life Flight may be requested by physicians, hospital personnel, emergency medical services, fire personnel, police, emergency management agencies and 911 dispatch centers. The OSF Life Flight programme was the first full IFR programme in the state of Illinois and currently is the only programme with GPS approaches into multiple hospitals.

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