Mountain Lifeflight continues to serve county
Jan. 29, 2013 — Susanville’s Mountain LifeFlight has provided both helicopter and fixed-winged transportation services to Lassen County residents for 20 years, and Keith Crosby, Mountain Lifeflight’s general manager said the company plans to continue to serve the community’s emergency medical air ambulance transportation needs for years to come.
“We’ve been here for 20 years,” Crosby said. “We have our infrastructure here, we’re Lassen County residents, we spend our money here, we shop locally, and in the end we believe that’s what’s going to keep us around.”
Crosby said Mountain LifeFlight has provided fixed-wing services to Lassen County residents since 1990. The company is in the process of bringing a newer and faster airplane into service.
“That was the first thing we began operating,” Crosby said. “We’re not out of the fixed wing business either. We have a King Air 200, but we’re in the process of buying another plane right now.”
Crosby said the new plan will better fit the needs of the community.
Crosby also said helicopter transportation from hospital to hospital can be less costly because the helicopter transports the patient directly from one hospital to another without the necessity of ground ambulance transportation. Patients who are transported by ambulance from the hospital to the airport, by a fixed wing aircraft to another airport and then by ambulance from the airport to the hospital will have three bills to pay, Crosby said. That could increase the amount of copays those with insurance will have to pay.
In addition to saving money, transportation by helicopter also can save time.
“Our helicopters are the same as they use at CareFlight,” Crosby said. “They’re very quick. We land right at the hospital.”
While the fixed-wing aircraft may be faster from airport to airport, Crosby said it may not be faster from hospital to hospital.
“You can’t make up enough on the speed,” Crosby said. “You could have a Boeing 737 and you still can’t get a patient from hospital to hospital faster than we can because you spend so much time taxiing, switching to ground ambulance. And then the ground ambulance can only drive so fast to the hospital.”
And Crosby noted hospitals are not located at the airport.
Of course, helicopters can take off and land away from airports and airstrips, making them ideal responders to many accidents and emergencies.
“In terms of patient care, a helicopter is just so much faster, and its better to get them in front of a doctor in a hospital,” Crosby said. “If we get the option, we always want to take them in a helicopter. When we land, we’re on the hospital roof at Renown.”
Crosby said despite the company’s belief in helicopters, it still offers fixed-wing service, which he believes is superior to ground ambulance transportation.
“We utilize that (fixed wing service) more in foul weather when you can’t fly a helicopter,” Crosby said. “If we can’t fly the helicopter, then we like to transport them by the fixed wing because it gets them there faster. It’s not as good as a helicopter, but it’s the best under the conditions”
In addition, Crosby said Mountain LifeFlight uses NorCal MCIN nurses and the only air ambulance provider in the county governed by NorCal EMS — the agency that regulates ambulance services in several north state counties.
Crosby said while the company’s nurses are not doctors, they’re able to provide more services to patients than a non-certified nurse.
“They have a wider scope of what they can do,” Crosby said.
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