1976 saw Memorial Hermann Life Flight carrying out its first mission in Texas when Houston was lacking in an official ambulance system. Within just 10 years, the air ambulance service grew to become the nation’s largest civilian air rescue program. This year, Life Flight celebrates its 40th year of service and continues to serve as model air ambulance rescue programs within the U.S.
How the Air Ambulance Service Began
Life Flight started out with one helicopter as a result of efforts made by trauma surgeon and Army veteran Dr. James Duke. Duke saw how Houston was struggling with a proper ambulance program and he wanted to create something that would help increase the survival rates of people suffering from serious injuries. Knowing how military helicopters have been used to save lives on battlefields, he decided to start an air rescue program that would transport critically-injured civilians to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Growth for Life Flight
Since its inception, Life Flight has carried out more than 150,000 missions and has even been portrayed in a few television shows. Its first helicopter had been equipped with lifesaving equipment that fit inside one medical bag. But now, the air ambulance service has expanded its fleet to six helicopters, all of them being a Eurocopter EC-145 twin engine. These helicopters are state-of-the-art with two autopilot systems and two navigation systems each.
The Life Flight helicopters carry out missions within a 150-mile radius of the state medical center. So Life Flight provides its services to residents of Houston, Austin, and Corpus Christi as well as some parts of Louisiana. They have the capability of carrying up to two patients at a time in addition to the crew that comprises of a pilot, a paramedic, and a flight nurse.