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First Trauma Hawk arrives for Florida health care service
The AW169 will, along with a second due shortly, replace the current Sikorsky S76-C+ fleet that has served Palm Beach County since 1999. They remain out of service for a few months during a training transition period.
The Trauma Hawk AW169 landing with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

The Health Care District of Palm Beach County in Florida has taken delivery of the first of two Leonardo AW169 helicopters, selected back in April 2020 for its Trauma Hawk aeromedical programme after more than a decade of planning and due diligence. It is anticipated that the second helicopter will also be delivered this month.

“This marks a new era in the Health Care District's commitment to delivering safe, high-quality trauma services to our community,” says CEO Darcy J Davis. “These helicopters will provide swift and efficient air transportation to enhance patient access to critical medical services and improved healthcare outcomes.”

The Leonardo AW169s will replace the current Sikorsky S76-C+ aircraft that have served the Health Care District and Palm Beach County since 1999. The new aircraft will remain out of service during a transition period while the flight team and mechanics complete specialised training to ensure a seamless shift to the new helicopters early next year. The Sikorsky aircraft will remain in service throughout the transition.

"The Health Care District's aeromedical programme has been a key component of Palm Beach County's integrated trauma system for more than 30 years,” says Kenneth A Scheppke, MD, FAEMS, medical director of the HCD's aeromedical and ground transportation programmes and medical director for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. “These new, technologically-advanced aircraft will play a key role in EMS response by providing critically ill and injured patients access to safe and rapid air transport in a county with a land area larger than the state of Rhode Island.”

One of the new standout features of the AW169 is its longitudinal roll-on stretcher system. This technology minimises patient movement during loading and unloading, providing a safe and efficient means of transport directly to a specialised medical centre like one of the county's two Level 1 trauma centres. As a result, the Trauma Hawk medical team will no longer need to transfer patients onto hospital stretchers at the helipad, saving crucial minutes during lifesaving missions.

"These new aircraft are a leap forward in technology for both the pilots and the medical crews,” says director of aeromedical transportation Jay Mazzone. “With advanced avionics, larger and brighter displays, and the added capability of night vision goggles, we are moving into the next generation of aircraft that will help us maintain and enhance our relentless focus on safety.”

The air medical team onboard the FAA-certified air ambulances includes at least one HCD commercial instrument-rated pilot along with PBC Fire Rescue medical personnel. In addition to the pilots, the HCD employs a team of aviation technicians and programme support staff.

“We are grateful to the Health Care District of Palm Beach County for investing in the advancement and safety of the aeromedical programme for the community,” says Charles Coyle, division chief of medical services for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. “Our flight nurses and flight medics are excited and prepared to start the training process of learning all the nuances of this new high-tech helicopter.”

“We are thrilled to deliver these two AW169 helicopters to our partner," adds Leonardo CEO Clyde Woltman. “Our teammates across the world are fully committed to supporting the Health Care District's critical missions to transport patients and save lives. I want to especially thank all of the administration, programme and production staff involved from both Palm Beach County and Leonardo for their hard work and ongoing commitment.”

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