Published on October 26, 2021

The View from my Seat

When every minute counts, Life Flight is now even closer

By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin

When Memorial Hermann Life Flight opened a new base in Brazoria County last year, David Linder could not have been more delighted.

Based on his own family’s experience, the Brazoria County Pct. 4 commissioner knows how valuable it will be for county residents to have the air medical service close by.

Several years before Life Flight expanded to its new base at Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport, his 3-year-old granddaughter was Life Flighted after being injured in a fall.

Linder, whose granddaughter is now 7, says he sometimes almost cries talking about the service Life Flight provided his granddaughter.

“The pilot and the crew even came around later to check on her,” he says.

That Life Flight came from the Texas Medical Center.

Now, with the new base, Linder says he “sleeps a little better at night” knowing that more county residents are benefiting from having a Life Flight base even closer.

Already, after only one year of operations at its new base, Life Flight has flown more than 720 critically ill and injured area patients to get the care they needed.

Seven of the most injured among those 720 patients were treated under a relatively new process that allows Life Flight paramedics and nurses to transport qualifying patients directly from the helipad to the operating room, bypassing the emergency room.

In situations where every second counts, bypassing the ER reduces a patient’s time to getting into an OR by an average of 33 minutes, according to Joshua Cools, business development director of Life Flight Trauma Services at Memorial Hermann Hospital System.

All seven of those critical patients survived.

Cools says that the pandemic has increased Life Flight’s workload and that August was the busiest month in program history. All of Life Flight’s bases, including its new one here in Brazoria County, recorded more than 100 missions that month.

“I don’t think any other air medical provider can say that each of their bases averaged 100 flights in a month,” says Cools.

Founded in 1976 by the legendary James “Red” Duke, the service operates around the clock - weather permitting.

Life Flight was the first air ambulance service in Texas and only the second in the country. There are now other air ambulances in the area, but Life Flight is the only non-profit organization.

Memorial Hermann provides Life Flight as a community service and relies on community support and fundraising.

Although Memorial Hermann provides the service, not all patients are taken to its Medical Center hospital.

Life Flight will transport to any appropriate facility.

Trauma patients are transported to Memorial Hermann in the Medical Center or UTMB Galveston, the area’s only Level 1 trauma centers with helipads.

Other medical patients can be transported to hospitals both within and outside the Memorial Hermann system, depending on a patient’s condition and care needed.

Life Flight today flies EC-145 helicopters. The copter’s twin engines provide safety and allow the transportation of two patients in addition to the pilot, paramedic and nurse.

The helicopters are loaded with everything from ultrasound capability to portable blood analyzers.
“The helicopters carry almost anything you could find in an ER,” says Cools.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)