COOKEVILLE – Vanderbilt LifeFlight will soon be expanding its footprint to serve the Upper Cumberland region by adding an emergency helicopter base in Cookeville.
The addition, a partnership between Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), was announced Thursday. The site for the new base, which is expected to open this summer, will be announced at a later date.
CRMC CEO Paul Korth said the move is a “win-win” for everyone, including CRMC patients in the Upper Cumberland region.
“Our partnership with Vanderbilt continues to grow since we affiliated with them four years ago,” Korth said in a release. “We (did that) so we could expand access to health services and resources for our region, and this project is just another example of how our facilities can work together for the benefit of the Upper Cumberland.”
The helicopter will have a 120-mile response area from Cookeville, and it will transport patients who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region back to CRMC. The aircraft is also equipped with air conditioning, state-of-the-art navigation, a communications and avionics package that includes night vision goggles, and a terrain avoidance warning system.
Sullivan Smith, M.D., CRMC Emergency Department medical director, said the placement of the helicopter in Cookeville is a natural “next-step” in the Vanderbilt/CRMC relationship. The primary purpose of the Cookeville LifeFlight base, he added, will be to bring patients from the Upper Cumberland who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region to CRMC.
“It will, of course, also be available to meet other calls for aeromedical services which may arise,” Smith said. “The addition of the LifeFlight base here in Cookeville provides an extension of the relationship and developing network between our hospitals.”
Since 1984 Vanderbilt LifeFlight, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Trauma Systems (CAMTS), has flown more than 38,000 patients. LifeFlight transports to any medically appropriate hospital and has immediate access to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, Burn Center and Children’s Hospital, all at VUMC.
Vanderbilt LifeFlight provides hospital-based emergency air medical transport services throughout Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, with remote helicopter bases in Lebanon, Tullahoma, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Mt. Pleasant and Henry County, Tenn. LifeFlight also operates an airplane base at Nashville International Airport and has five ground ambulances as well as an event medicine division.
“We look forward to continuing Vanderbilt LifeFlight’s commitment to excellence in education, patient care and patient safety with our hospital, EMS and 911 colleagues throughout the Upper Cumberland region,” Stephan Russ, M.D., associate professor of Emergency Medicine at VUMC and associate chief of staff for Vanderbilt University Hospital, said. “For more than 32 years Vanderbilt LifeFlight has been delivering industry-leading medical care as a community asset, and we trust that our expansion into Cookeville will strengthen the access, reach and viability of the program for many more years to come.”