Spectrum moving AeroMed from Big Rapids to Traverse City.

February 9, 2016

aeromedBIG RAPIDS — Spectrum Health has announced that it is moving its Big Rapids-based AeroMed helicopter to Traverse City, according to WOOD TV 8 of Grand Rapids. Spectrum is partnering with Munson Healthcare and will operate two medical helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft in Traverse City, according to the report posted Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. A helicopter will also continue to operate out of Grand Rapids.

The decision was made to improve efficiency and maintain a sustainable service model, according to the report. The Big Rapids-based helicopter often responds to emergencies in Mason County, as does a helicopter based in Grand Rapids.  According to the Spectrum Health website, the Big Rapids helicopter is staffed part time during peak hours. Shawn Ulreich, chief nursing executive and senior vice president of clinical operations at Spectrum Health, told WOOD TV that the Traverse City-based helicopter will operate 24 hours a day.

The distance from Ludington to Big Rapids is about 65 miles by road, while Ludington to Traverse City is about 94 miles by road; Ludington to Grand Rapids is around 100 miles by road. The Sikorsky S-76 helicopters are capable of flying up to 178 mph, according to the manufacturer’s website.

“The majority of our transports are actually from hospital to hospital,” said Ulreich. “There’s actually only about 20 percent that occur at the scene. But we’re committed to that. We’ve evaluated that in terms of response to both the community and also the hospitals.”

Since January 2014, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital has been equipped with a helipad, allowing the helicopter to land near the emergency department. For several years the helicopters had to land at Mason County Airport, about one mile east of the hospital. Often, AeroMed will land on the scene of a traumatic incident in rural areas of the county.



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