A quieter, more efficient bird takes flight

New Life Flight helicopter offers a unique training vehicle for emergency medicine residents

By Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

October 04, 2011

A quieter, more efficient Life Flight helicopter ambulance has been zipping on and off the helipad at the UMass Memorial Medical Center University Campus Emergency Department since August, transporting the sickest of patients from around the region. The busy helicopter averages about 700 flights per year, and most flights include a UMMS emergency medicine resident acting as the flight physician.

With a top speed of 140 miles per hour, the 2008 American Eurocopter EC135 T2 Plus includes the latest in safety features: anti-wire strike technology to avoid hitting high tension wires; safer seats for hard landings or crashes; a better engine with more power; and terrain and traffic avoidance technology. It is slightly smaller than the old one, which directly impacts the operating cost.

“The operating costs are a fraction of the old one’s,” said Marc C. Restuccia, MD, associate clinical professor of emergency medicine and medical director of Life Flight.

The new helicopter will benefit emergency medicine residents, all of whom are required to fly on it during training—a requirement unique to the UMMS program and a draw for candidates. In addition to the flight physician, the crew includes a pilot and a flight nurse.

Get a feel for what it’s like to fly in the new helicopter and hear Dr. Restuccia explain the significance of this important teaching vehicle.