Kearney--Central Nebraskans may have started seeing a new bird in the sky.
Good Samaritan Hospital's AirCare medical transport service is upgrading to a Bell 429 helicopter in mid-November. Pilots from Rodgers Helicopter Services have begun training on the new aircraft at area airports.
Doug Wulf, RN, chief flight nurse for AirCare, said, "this new helicopter is lighter and more agile than what we had before, so it will be easier to land and respond at the scene of an accident."
This brand new helicopter has an average cruising speed of 172 miles per hour, making it the fastest medical hospital in the state and region.
The helicopter also has the largest interior space and is capable of transporting two patients and three flight nurses or other medical personnel at one time.
"With the Bell helicopter, we will have the ability to fly up to two patients at a time. We were able to do that with our previous helicopter, but we needed to plan for that. Now, we'll be able to do it without notice," Wulf said.
"Our commitment is to maintain or improve upon the high level of quality, competent patient care that we offer today, with specialty transport capabilities for high-risk obstetric, neonate and cardiac patients requiring intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation."
Rodgers Helicopter Services, the hospital's longtime partner, provides the helicopter and pilots for AirCare. Rodgers purchased the Bell 429 and recently returned from an air medical services show in Seattle with the helicopter where it was showcased by Bell.
This new ship will have the same range as the hospital's current Sikorsky S-76A++ helicopter, which at 425 miles is still the longest range in the region.
The community is invited to view the Bell 429 helicopter on Thursday, November 8 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the parking lot north of 33rd Street and west of the North Annex, the site of the temporary landing pad during construction of the permanent helipad on the rooftop.