New chopper brings life-saving care closer and faster

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dan Brown/Independent -- The new Roper Berkeley helipad can transport patients to Roper Hospital in downtown Charleston in as little as 10 to 15 minutes depending on wind. --

Roper Berkeley Hospital just brought Moncks Corner a half-hour closer to downtown Charleston.
With the installation of its new helipad Roper reduced what has been a 45-minute ambulance ride to 10 to 15 minutes, critical time saved in the event of a heart attack or stroke.
Lifenet SC, a division of Air Methods Corporation, owns and operates the Eurocopter EC-135, a state of the art aircraft with onboard weather radar, accident avoidance systems and night vision goggle capability.
Currently the helicopter is onsite at Roper Berkeley Hospital on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Since the helipad became operational in late February, all flights to date have involved acute cardiac patients. Two originated in from Hampton County, five from either Roper Berkeley or Roper Mount Pleasant Hospitals.
If a patient coming from Roper Berkeley Hospital requires helicopter transportation, the hospital notifies Lifelink dispatch which relays the patient information to the aircraft team and begins the process of transitioning the patient to Roper Hospital in downtown Charleston.  
“If the patient is being sent by Berkeley County EMS then their dispatchers handle the process,” said Richard Barge, the operations manager at Roper Lifelink-MICU, “The helicopter team then calls the Roper Hospital ER when they are coming in just like the ambulances do.”
Flight time from Roper Berkeley Hospital to downtown Charleston takes 10 to 15 minutes depending on wind.
“It takes three-to-five minutes to load a patient onto the helicopter,” Barge said.
Once the hospital touches down at the Roper Hospital helipad the patient can be on a cardiac catheter table in the event of a heart attack in three to four minutes, Barge added.
Before the helipad was erected on Roper Hospital’s south tower, helicopters were required to land on a downtown parking garage, then be moved from the helicopter landing pad to an ambulance, through traffic, to Roper Hospital and into the emergency room or Heart and Vascular Center.
Dan Brown can be reached at dbrown@berkeleyind.com.

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