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Easily the most visible and recognizable of our vehicles, our four distinctively painted orange Eurocopter AS 350 "AStar" B3 helicopters are literally flying critical care units. Chosen for its high altitude capability and economy of operation, the AStar is a perfect fit for medical air transport in Colorado's mountain communities and terrain.
The helicopters are based at
St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood ("Lifeguard One"),
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco ("Lifeguard Two"),
Penrose-St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs ("Lifeguard Three"),
St. Mary- Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo ("Lifeguard Four"), and
Mercy Medical Center in Durango ("Lifeguard Five"). Lifeguard One, Two, Three, Four, and Five are in service twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They have a service radius of approximately one hundred twenty miles from their bases.
All helicopters are leased from
Air Methods Corporation in Englewood, Colorado. Pilots and mechanics are employees of Air Methods Corp.
Virtually all the pilots all have military experience, many having seen combat in Viet Nam and Desert Storm. All have several thousand hours experience as pilot-in-command and have undergone extensive training to enable them to fly in the unique environment of the Rocky Mountains.
The pilot's chief responsibility is the safe operation of the aircraft. All decisions regarding "go or no go" are strictly his. All helicopter operations are under "visual flight rules" (VFR), so weather factors will significantly affect a pilot's decision.
Each helicopter is capable of carrying one adult patient and two care providers, in addition to the pilot. An isolette can be carried instead of the adult stretcher. In rare situations, two adult patients may be carried, but this is dependent on many factors, e.g., altitude, air temperature, and total weight. It is our policy to not carry family members aboard the helicopters.
The helicopters are used in two primary roles, scene response and interfacility transport. Scene response can be to an urban traffic collision or mountain rescue. Each scene is evaluated for its level of risk and a flight may be aborted by any crewmember if they feel uneasy. Loading and unloading must be accomplished with both skids solidly on the ground. Interfacility transports are performed in order to move a patient either to a higher level of care or for the sake of immediate intervention.
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