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LifeFlight makes local impact

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:36 PM

A life-saving service not to be overlooked or taken advantage of is Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight, and with a station in Lebanon, the effects of the program can now be seen locally.

LifeFlight helps by offering services for all medical transportation needs within 150 miles of Nashville and has full access to Vanderbilt and the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, Burn Center and Children’s Hospital.

According to the Vanderbilt LifeFlight website, it is nationally recognized for quality and safety and “is a key part of a trauma system that includes pre-hospital care, definitive care, rehabilitation and injury prevention.”

LifeFlight began in 1984 and has been helping Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt since. In it’s nearly 30 years, LifeFlight has transported more than 33,000 patients.

LifeFlight is built to serve the community by carrying patients to appropriate and available hospitals. It is part of the non-profit Vanderbilt UMC, is the only non-profit air medical service in Middle Tennessee and is the largest non-profit air medical transport program in the state.

Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight is made of six divisions; airplane, discharge transport, emergency communications, event medicine, ground EMS and helicopter. There are seven aircraft and three specialized critical care ambulances.

Bases for the LifeFlight service reach across the region and help provide adequate health care for Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and Northern Alabama, with stations in Tullahoma, Clarksville, Smyrna, Mt. Pleasant and Lebanon at the Lebanon Municipal Airport.

Highly trained staff includes flight nurses with an average of 10 years of experience in emergency and/or critical care, flight paramedics, communicators and pilots.

Recently, LifeFlight has made a positive impact in Lebanon.

Joanne McNeely, who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., said her daughter Kara, 19, was living and working in Lebanon until Nov. 25 when she was in a car accident.

McNeely said the quick and decisive response of Ctr. Robert Bates with Lebanon Police along with EMTs is what helped save her daughters life, who was suffering from several internal injuries.

“The EMT decided she needed to be taken by LifeFlight instead of taken by ambulance,” McNeely said.

McNeely said she immediately boarded a plane to get to the hospital.

“By the time I arrived doctors told us if she hadn’t of been taken by LifeFlight, she would have bled to death because her liver was almost cut in half and the blood would have gone into her punctured heart,” McNeely said.

According to McNeely her daughter is still recovering after open-heart surgery and is going to take some time to heal, but she is thankful for those involved and thankful her daughter is still here.

“I don’t know how many times I can thank them, but we have LifeFlight, the Lebanon Police Department and Vanderbilt Trauma to thank,” McNeely said. “They hold a very special place in my heart because they saved my daughter.”

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