New Helicopter Speeds Emergency Response, Saves Lives

The new helicopter soars above Cohen Children's Medical Center.

Emergency medical responders soon won’t have to worry about clogged late-afternoon traffic on the Long Island Expressway or other metro New York thoroughfares. They’re taking to the sky.

In an investment that means the difference between life and death for victims of major trauma, heart attack, stroke and other brain injuries, the North Shore-LIJ Health System, which includes Cohen Children’s Medical Center, and Yale-New Haven Health in Connecticut have signed an agreement to partner on a new Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) program called SkyHealth.

“As the largest pediatric trauma center in New York, we welcome the added speed and expertise of SkyHealth in transporting injured children rapidly from the scene of injury for definitive care,” said Jose Prince, MD, pediatric surgeon and Trauma Program medical director for Cohen Children’s. He cited as an example the extensive pediatric intensive care capabilities, including the Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program, which is the only program of its kind on Long Island.

SkyHealth is especially valuable as North Shore-LIJ explores opportunities to increase its presence beyond its traditional service area of New York City and Long Island.

“The air medical program expands the health system’s footprint and solidifies our regional status, particularly in trauma care,” said Eugene Tangney, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at North Shore-LIJ. “We did our home work and found an elite clinical partner in Yale–New Haven.

Helicopter transport plays a key role in Cohen Children’s plans to continue expanding its Trauma Program and capabilities. The hospital is already a state-designated level I pediatric trauma center, offering the highest level of trauma care. For instance, the hospital has pediatric trauma surgeons immediately available, provides specialty coverage in neurosurgery and orthopedic trauma, has a fellowship training program in place for future trauma surgeons and conducts pediatric trauma research.

“We are the destination center for pediatric trauma patients from across the region. We are staffed and equipped to provide whatever care is needed to our pediatric patients at a moment’s notice,” said Nathan Christopherson, Trauma Program manager for Cohen Children’s.

The new helicopter is outfitted with sophisticated technology that includes mechanical ventilators, cardiac monitoring, incubators for infants and other lifesaving medical equipment.

Read the next article in the Winter 2015 issue of Kids First: Playing it Safe: The Whole Toy Story

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