LifeFlight sees record breaking flights during holiday weekend

LifeFlight sees record breaking flights during holiday weekend (Image 1)

Vanderbilt's LifeFlight helicopters worked more than three times the number of critical care flights during the three day holiday weekend when compared to Memorial Day Weekend 2011.

By Monday afternoon more than 60 flights had landed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center since Friday.

“It has been one of the busiest Memorial Day weekends we have had in our more recent history at least in the last eight years,” Public Affairs Manager Jerry Jones said. “We are bringing in all types of patients from ATV accidents, motorcycle accidents, car accidents, shootings and stabbings.”

He continued, “Really any kind of outdoor activity that's gone on.”

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is a critical care air medical transport service that has five active helicopters and a plane available to respond to critical care emergencies.

“EMS agencies call in LifeFlight when patients are at their very worst and they need that critical care,” Jones said.

On average Jones said dispatchers for LifeFlight answer calls every 43 seconds. During the Memorial Day weekend dispatchers were receiving calls on an average of every two seconds.

By Monday afternoon 63 flights had come to Vanderbilt. On an average holiday weekend the hospital receives an average of 20.

“Alcohol has played a big factor and then there is a lack of awareness about safety,” Jones said. “Specifically, boating accidents where people aren't wearing their life preservers and swimming pool accidents where children are left unattended.”

LifeFlight helicopters fly at an average speed of 140 to 165 miles per hour.  In many cases that cuts transport time to the hospital by more than half.

It still can be too late for some people.

Jones said if the trend of Memorial Day weekend continues, 2012 could be a very dangerous summer for Tennessee.

He said people should prepare to prevent safety issues before they head out to an event or to spend the day doing other activities.

“If we could attach a message to this, it would be to pay attention to the basic safety habits that we learned,” Jones said.  “Make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen, wear light colored loose fitting clothing and drink plenty of water.”

He continued, “If you are going to drink alcohol, then drink water with it and try to limit your intake.”

The LifeFlight aircraft is stored at six active bases with radiuses of 120 miles to various parts of Middle Tennessee.  The Vanderbilt LifeFlight plane has a range of more than 900 miles and often transports patients across the state for medical care.

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