HSHS St. Joseph’s Highland Hosts Blessing & Ribbon Cutting For HSHS Rescue Flight

Peggy Sebastian, President & CEO, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, is joined by HSHS Southern Illinois Division President and CEO, Jim Dover, members of the HSHS Rescue Flight crew, and members of the Highland area community for the ribbon cutting for the new helicopter.

The snow and wind on Tuesday morning couldn’t trump the excitement of the blessing and ribbon cutting for the HSHS Rescue Flight helicopter. HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland presented the event to a large crowd, despite the fact that the helicopter was off site for protection from the weather.

“Having a helicopter based at St. Joseph’s Hospital is a true benefit for the community. It will add to the level of emergency care and safety for residents,” said Amy Liefer, Director of Communications at St. Joseph’s Highland. “The wind and snow didn’t cooperate with us today, but it certainly didn’t diminish the excitement of those at our event.”

The event featured speakers from HSHS Southern Illinois Division, as well as Air Methods Corporation, the partner company in operation of HSHS Rescue Flight. A blessing for the helicopter and crew was offered by Fr. Pat Jakel of St. Paul Catholic Church in Highland, followed by the ribbon cutting conducted by the Highland Area Chamber of Commerce.

HSHS Southern Illinois Division announced the launch of HSHS Rescue Flight on January 25. The new helicopter serves HSHS St. Joseph’s Highland, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Belleville, and HSHS St. Joseph’s Breese. Ribbon cutting events were held at each of the hospitals served.

The new helicopter will be stationed at St. Joseph’s Highland, cutting patient transfer times by as much as 11 minutes. Patients needing specialized care will no longer have to wait for a helicopter to commute from St. Louis. Minutes saved with the new helicopter service provides opportunities to save heart muscle in cardiac patients and brain tissue in patients with stroke or neurological symptoms. Having a helicopter based in the community also allows for quicker access to care for on scene emergencies and reduces the transport time to a trauma center.

“When looking at patients who are transferred for cardiac and stroke symptoms, we realized we had a great opportunity to streamline that process,” said Julie LaFrance, Director of Planning and Operations at HSHS St. Joseph’s Highland. “HSHS Rescue Flight will complement our STAT Heart Program with protocols that save heart muscle and improve door-to-door time from the St. Joseph’s Highland Emergency Department to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.”

The helicopter base is staffed with four pilots, four paramedics, and four flight nurses, who rotate shifts. The helicopter is staffed with a pilot, paramedic, and flight nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, a maintenance crew for the helicopter is employed.

For more information about HSHS Rescue Flight, contact Amy Liefer, Director of Communications at St. Joseph’s Highland, at 618-651-2589 or amy.liefer@hshs.org.