January 24, 2020
Officials with HCA Houston Healthcare today unveiled Houston’s newest air ambulance service and the city’s first advanced mobile training ambulance and patient simulator, two new programs designed to enhance high-level adult and pediatric trauma care.
“These two programs demonstrate a total commitment to supporting our EMS personnel and first responders in the region with higher-level training and support, particularly for high-risk events,” says Troy Villarreal, president of HCA Houston Healthcare.
AIRLife Ambulance Service
HCA Houston Healthcare’s new AIRLife helicopters will operate 24/7, staffed with highly trained flight nurses, paramedics and skilled pilots. The first AIRLife helicopter will be based at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. A second helicopter will be based at HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe. Both will have a range of approximately 120 miles and will respond to assist at 911 calls as well as transfer adult and pediatric patients from other hospitals in need of a higher level of care.
The new helicopters feature expanded cabin space and an increased maximum takeoff weight, according to Allen Sims, EMS executive at HCA Houston Healthcare.
“Time to treatment is critical for trauma care, particularly with cardiac and stroke patients,” says Sims. “AIRLife is an important step toward improving access to emergency services in the communities we serve.”
Marty Delaney, HCA Houston Healthcare’s vice president of medical transport, will manage the AIRLife helicopters and ground ambulances.
Elevating EMS Training
The second EMS program, HCA Houston Healthcare’s mobile simulation ambulance, is a dynamic, next-generation EMS training center and portable classroom on wheels. The “simbulance” will be equipped with adult, child and infant mannequins capable of simulating a wide variety of trauma and medical emergencies, including airway blockages, pediatric seizures, newborn resuscitation, breech deliveries and other high-risk cases, particularly those rarely encountered in the field.
Valued at $600,000, HCA Houston Healthcare’s mobile simulation ambulance houses three remote-controlled cameras, wireless microphones and a large flat-screen monitor for peer observation outside the ambulance.
As a mobile training center, it can be set up at any Houston-area EMS facility, unlike current simulation ambulances located in fixed locations.
“With this unit, paramedics can train on cases they don’t see everyday without leaving their station,” Sims adds. “That’s a huge plus, particularly for smaller departments in outlying areas.”
While a handful of EMS departments may have a single adult or pediatric mannequin, he says they lack a “family” of programmed mannequins representing every age range. Sims says several departments have already booked the simulation ambulance for their paramedics.
HCA Houston Healthcare is one of the city’s largest healthcare systems with a network of 13 Houston-area hospitals. Two of its affiliated hospitals, HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake and HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe, operate Level II trauma centers.