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Vanderbilt LifeFlight's EC145 helicopters provide air medical support services for the U.S. Army

Nashville, Tennessee, 15 March 2006

EC145 helicopters are providing key medical airlift services for the U.S. Army through support missions performed by Vanderbilt LifeFlight at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is the critical care medical evacuation service of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, covering middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Alabama. It operates from four locations in Tennessee, utilizing a rotary-wing fleet of three EC145s and two BK-117s (the predecessor helicopter to the EC145).

The Army has contracted with Vanderbilt LifeFlight for on–call medical airlift support for the 101st Airborne and other military personnel at the massive Fort Campbell facility near Clarksville, Kentucky. Vanderbilt LifeFlight’s EC145s provide assured air medical transportation with a rapid response time, utilizing its LifeFlight 3 base of operations at Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville.

“We have worked closely with the U.S. Army, including training its personnel to understand the EC145’s full capabilities, and to guarantee coordination between all parties during our operations in military airspace – especially since Fort Campbell has active firing ranges,” explained Wilson Matthews, a Vanderbilt LifeFlight flight nurse and base operations manager. “Support missions performed to date have included the airlift of a burn patient and a response to a Humvee accident.”

EADS North America is offering a military version of the EC145 – designated the UH-145 – to meet the mission requirements of the U.S. Army’s new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The UH-145 is well-suited to the Army’s LUH commercially-based acquisition strategy, combining mission flexibility, high reliability and affordability with a large, unobstructed main cabin and state-of-the-art cockpit.

Matthews said the EC145 has proven to be an extremely reliable and capable helicopter in operations with Vanderbilt LifeFlight, which was the first university-based hospital flight program in North America to utilize this helicopter. Its EC145/BK117 fleet performs approximately 3,000 flights per year, with many of these airlifting patients to Vanderbilt University Medical Center – which is the only Level 1 Trauma Center within a 68,000 square mile area.

“The EC145 has great performance and lift capability, and an excellent range with the fuel load,” Matthews said. “As a flight nurse, I especially appreciate the large cabin, which allows us to carry a full complement of medical equipment while still providing plenty of room for me to move around while assisting the patients.”

Matthews also gives high marks to the EC145 for its ease of loading and unloading, using the large rear clamshell doors and sliding side doors. Safety during ground operations also is significantly enhanced by the helicopter’s high-set main and tail rotors.

“You can’t beat the EC145 during ground handling because the clamshell doors open big and wide, allowing the loading of patients just like we do with an ambulance,” he said. “The high main and tail rotors are very important from a safety point of view, especially for ‘hot’ offloads of patients with the blades turning. In addition, the EC145’s Arriel engines shut down quickly – in 30 seconds – so by the time I’m out of my seatbelt and have all of the equipment secured and ready to unload, the shutdown procedure is often already completed.”

Vanderbilt LifeFlight’s EC145s are qualified for single and dual-pilot IFR (instrument flight rules) operations, and its pilots actively use IFR and GPS approaches at several hospital locations in Tennessee. The helicopter cockpits also are night vision goggle compatible, with acquisition of the goggles planned by Vanderbilt LifeFlight this year for use in flight, during approach and in landing.

Louisiana’s Metro Aviation managed the medical interior outfitting for Vanderbilt LifeFlight’s EC145s, employing a system of rails that allows equipment to be easily installed and removed with clip mounts. Another feature is the use of liquid oxygen that is carried in specially-designed tanks installed on the helicopter’s exterior.

About the EC145/UH-145

The technologically-advanced and operationally-proven EC145 is used worldwide for emergency medical transportation, law enforcement, search and rescue, offshore and utility operations, and corporate transport. It leverages the latest in modern and proven technologies to deliver superior performance, outstanding operational reliability, excellent maintainability and safety. The helicopter’s unobstructed main cabin is easily re-configurable for maximum mission flexibility, and the helicopter's sliding side and rear clamshell doors optimize access and effective space utilization. Seating capacity is for up to nine passengers, and two stretchers can be installed for medevac missions. Its UH-145 version offers a commercially-based solution for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter mission.

Further information

About American Eurocopter

American Eurocopter is the American subsidiary of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world, and EADS North America, the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. American Eurocopter builds, markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer. The product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. American Eurocopter’s headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, Texas, with a large new factory in Columbus, Mississippi.

Media Contacts:
Guy Hicks, VP Communications
EADS North America
Tel.: 703-236-3300
mailto: guy.hicks@eads-na.com

Brenda Reuland, VP Communications
American Eurocopter
Tel.: 972-641-3679
mailto: brenda.reuland@eurocopterusa.com

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