Medstar, the shock trauma unit at Washington Hospital Center, was incorrectly identified in a story in Monday's Washington Business section as the Maryland state emergency medical evacuation system.
C&P Airways Inc., a helicopter leasing and transportation company based at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, demonstrated its new emergency medical evacuation service (EMS) at Washington Hospital Center last week.
Flying a Bell 222 twin-engine helicopter, pilot Ron Nimblett circled the hospital several times before landing near the emergency entrance. The Bell 222 is generally used for chartered passenger service, but can be reconfigured quickly to accommodate a hospital stretcher, life support equipment and a team of two or three medical technicians. Its top speed is about 174 miles per hour.
"There are now approximately 40 U.S. hospitals with EMS helicopters," said Bruce Stoehr, C&P Airways vice president for marketing. "Five years ago there were just two. Helicopters are a natural extension of the growth in specialized and shock trauma hospitals."
C&P Airways' demonstration was part of a larger EMS technical display sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and attended by the U.S. Park Service, which provides EMS helicopters in the District, and Medstar representatives. Medstar is the Maryland state EMS program, based in Baltimore.
"The Maryland and District EMS operations are among the best in the world," Stoehr said. "However, Northern Virginia is still serviced by ground ambulance and would lend itself to a helicopter system." He added that C&P Airways is negotiating with some Northern Virginia hospitals to provide EMS and is close to a deal with a Norfolk hospital.
EMS helicopters have two primary missions: responding to "site work," such as car accidents, and transferring patients from regular hospitals to specialty hospitals. Although the C&P Airways service is commercial, Stoehr said most hospital insurance policies cover EMS evacuations, which are billed to the patient at approximately the same rate as ambulance service, about $4 to $6 a mile, one-way. To rent the same helicopter in a corporate configuration, with room for six passengers and baggage, would run "about $1,000 an hour," Stoehr said.
In addition to their new EMS program, C&P Airways also leases helicopters for corporate travel, electronic news gathering, fire and forestry mission, seismic exploration and offshore/maritime transportation.
Citing reduced demand, Reynolds Metals Co., based in Richmond, said last Friday that it would cut aluminum production by 142,000 tons at four of its primary aluminum-making facilities, cutting its operating rate to 66 percent of its North American capacity. The reduction will force five smelting plants to close, and 590 employes will be laid off.