Bozeman's new air ambulance

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Billings Clinic's new helicopter air ambulance is now in service in Bozeman. The flight team began providing services on July 15, according to a release.

“Having this service in Bozeman saves critical time for patients who need emergency medical transport to a higher level of care,” Scott Ellner, DO, Billings Clinic CEO, said. “This brings opportunities for quick access of care for critically ill and injured patients and gets them to where they need to be for rapid treatment. It will save lives."

The new twin-engine EC145 helicopter operates out of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and is staffed 24/7 with at least two critical care providers. It will be able to respond to all transport requests, including patient transfers between facilities and emergency scenes.

With the ability to cover a roughly 150-mile radius around the Bozeman area without a refueling stop, it will be able to reach major medical facilities and critical access hospitals throughout southern, central and eastern Montana.

“We know that a local, hospital-affiliated air ambulance brings much greater value to patients and communities,” Billings Clinic MedFlight Operations Manager Ted Galbraith said. “Providing patients with the emergency services they need, where and when they need them, means better care for more people and a lower cost. The entire Billings Clinic MedFlight team is excited to be a part of Bozeman and the surrounding area, and we look forward to serving both the community and region over the years to come.”

The new service, which is an extension of the Billings-based fixed wing MedFlight Air Ambulance service, offers a hospital-affiliated alternative and connects patients to the resources and expertise of the region’s largest health system.

Billings Clinic’s current MedFlight service includes two fixed-wing aircraft based in Billings, which can transport patients across Montana, Wyoming and throughout the region.

The expanded helicopter service is a partnership with Metro Aviation, which will help to hire some staff such as pilots and mechanics, provide the helicopter and maintain flight and aircraft management.

“This will effectively be a mobile Emergency Department and critical care unit,” Dr. Ellner said. “We are staffing the air ambulance with highly trained medical staff who are Billings Clinic employees and experts in emergency medicine.” 

The air ambulance is staffed with nearly 20 people who have extensive training centered on the intensive care and emergency and trauma skills practiced at the clinic.

Until a hangar at the airport is complete to house the air ambulance, the Central Valley Fire District out of Belgrade will allow on-duty members of the air ambulance team to use its facilities as its base of operations. This gives the crew and support staff a dedicated space to work and rest when they’re not in the air, and allows both teams to train together.

Construction is also underway on Billings Clinic Bozeman’s new 140,000 square foot Destination Ambulatory Center in Bozeman. Billings Clinic’s status as a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network means that more Montanans also have access to resources from one of the nation’s leading health care systems. 

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