As a trusted emergency air medical provider serving the greater Chicago region for more than 35 years, LifeStar recently celebrated with an open house public event for community members, neighbouring partners and crew members at its hangar in Joliet, Illinois.
“We are here because of the people we serve. LifeStar provides lifesaving care, giving thousands of people more tomorrows and more time with family and friends,” says clinical base lead and flight nurse Liesl Esposito, who has been with the LifeStar programme for almost a decade. “We were thrilled to be able to share our anniversary with the community.”
LifeStar began as a hospital-based programme in 1988 based out of Loyola University Medical Center. It was acquired by Air Methods in 2007 and amended to become a community-based programme. That same year its base was relocated to Joliet to better serve the Illinois and Indiana region.
“We are so pleased with our patient-care relationship with LifeStar and the Air Methods team,” says Ascension Saint Mary's director of trauma and emergency operations Kevin Bernard. “What a great pleasure, working as a team to ensure our community receives the best air transport service available when patient acuity and time are of the essence.”
The LifeStar flight team, a small but mighty crew consisting of a pilot, nurse and paramedic, receives annual specialty training. Pilots are trained using Level D full flight simulators, the highest fidelity flight simulator approved by the FAA, representing the most sophisticated and accurate simulators used by most commercial airlines. Clinicians receive hands-on training through Air Methods Ascend, an in-person and online training programme that allows clinicians to perform at the top of their licensure. Ascend is also available to medical personnel across the country.
Additionally, the LifeStar team achieved the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) certification and carries the critical resources needed to provide ICU-level care while in flight.
“Over the years, I've interacted with many phenomenal individuals, from nurses, medics, pilots, mechanics, dispatchers to other support staff. Their efforts on behalf of the patients and communities they served were always patient and safety-centred,” says Mark Cichon, Loyola University Medical Center physician, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, who has been LifeStar's medical director of aeromedical services for more than 20 years. “Many individuals are enjoying their families today because of this expertise. There are many ways to describe this dedication: passion for their profession, compassion for their patients and professionalism for this work.”