NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Wednesday, HCA HealthCare TriStar Health revealed new lifesaving technology that is reaching an all-time high.
“TriStar SkyLife is a specialized helicopter that really integrates with TriStar facilities,” said Dr. Marshall Hall, TriStar Skylife Medical Director.
The new SkyLife helicopter is being used to help critical patients across the state. One of the most critical cases they are helping those with severe cases of COVID-19.
“Those are disease processes in which time and just minutes matter, and so even if we can save 20 or 30 minutes that may be the difference between that person living and that person not surviving,” explained Dr. Hall.
Dr. Hall says oftentimes, patients need critical care immediately. In some cases, the hospital is tasked with reaching people in rural areas, or other states, where local emergency crews may have a tougher time getting to.
Dr. Hall explains, “To be simply put, ambulances take far too long sometimes and so we need to fly them.”
Inside the helicopter, a maximum of six people can fit inside, including the patient. Healthcare officials say they are taking the same care someone would receive inside the hospital up in the air.
Dr. Hall says the aircraft features plenty of space inside, allowing first responders to put patients in a prone position, meaning on their stomach.
“Rolling that patient over sometimes allows more oxygen to get from the outside world, into our bloodstream. It doesn’t always work, but it’s one of those things, for certain patients it is beneficial, and it can by us some time,” said Dr. Hall.
Another feature, crews are able to use the lifesaving technology called ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
The program provides support to patients with prolonged cardiac and respiratory problems. ECMO is used to help critically ill patients reach full recovery, provides prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose hearts
“Anytime that we are placing somebody on ECMO they are the sickest of the sick and they need that, it’s time-sensitive, we have to get them here as quickly as possible,” explained Dr. Hall.
Although vaccine distribution has ramped up in Tennessee, the state has reported over 800,000 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. As doctors continue to work in bringing positive cases down, this helicopter is another tool for them to use.
The new chopper is already saving lives, going as far as Illinois helping critical patients be transported.