VOL. 127 | NO. 193 | Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Improved Flight Path
By MICHAEL WADDELL
Air medical transport service Hospital Wing has consolidated its operations under one roof with a $1.2 million renovation and expansion of its headquarters near Downtown Memphis.
A Hospital Wing helicopter waits for calls on the pad at the company’s headquarters. The air medical transport service has consolidated its operations under one roof near Downtown.
(File photo by Lance Murphey)
“The Wing” – as the company is usually called – celebrated the completion of renovations at its Memphis base with an open house event, Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Hospital Wing operates under the corporate name of Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service Inc., and it has provided helicopter flights for critically ill and injured patients of the Mid-South and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years.
The company offers inter-hospital transfers and emergency scene calls for an average of more than 200 patients per month within a 150-mile radius of Memphis, including West Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama and Kentucky.
Bill Conway took over as the company’s new CEO/director of flight operations in late July, replacing outgoing CEO Alan Burnett. Conway, a retired Navy commander, joined Hospital Wing as a line pilot in 2010, following 23 years flying helicopters for the Navy.
“Hospital Wing is unique in that we were established by the four major hospitals in Memphis in July 1986 and those hospitals are very proud to claim us as a model of a consortium working together,” said Conway, who points out that The Wing remains independently operated from the hospitals. “We are also unique in the fact that we are a not-for-profit company and we do charitable giving for those in need on a case-by-case basis. We make it a part of who we are.”
When Hospital Wing originally moved into the air hangar at 1080 Eastmoreland Ave. in 1986, the service consisted of only two helicopters and roughly 20 employees. Since then, the service has grown more than threefold while logging approximately 30,000 flight hours.
Today The Wing owns six Eurocopter Astar AS350B3 helicopters and employs a staff of 72 and growing.
“We’re actually shorthanded right now, but we just hired two new nurses and we’re looking to hire new pilots,” said Lisa Harlow, Hospital Wing office manager since 1995.
One helicopter at each base is fully staffed with a pilot, nurse and paramedic at all times, and one helicopter at the Memphis base is available exclusively for Pedi-Flite Transport Team of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for inter-facility pediatric transports. Sixty percent of the flights are trauma-related, and emergency scene flights account for approximately 35 percent of transports.
The service flies out of four locations: Memphis, Brownsville and Selmer, Tenn., and Oxford, Miss. It is affiliated with The Elvis Presley Trauma Center at the Regional Medical Center, Baptist Health Systems, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and Methodist-Le Bonheur Healthcare, as well as Saint Francis Hospital and Crittenden (Ark.) Regional Hospital.
Each helicopter is equipped with a satellite tracking system, two Garmin GNS430s, SiriusXM satellite weather and Auto Pilot, and each aircraft is air-conditioned for patient comfort.
Linkous Construction Co. Inc. began the work in April, working from designs drawn by A2H architectural firm. The project adds 6,728 square feet of administrative, office and educational outreach space, including a conference room and the renovation of 2,500 square feet.
“It’s the first air hangar we’ve renovated, and Hospital Wing is a unique client since they have critical activity happening at any given moment. We worked closely with them to make sure we separated our construction activity and did not interfere with their operations,” said Rusty Linkous, president of Linkous Construction.
“Our concept of operations is much like a fire department, so we are increasing the size of the crew spaces and adding more bedrooms,” said Conway, who explains it is a focal point of the new hangar layout since the pilots and nurses are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The expansion will also allow Hospital Wing to move its dispatch center and communications team from Collierville, where they had been leasing space from Rural Metro I.