LifeFlight Eagle

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Happy EMS Week 2015!

Paramedics, EMTs, first responders, firefighters and dispatchers can register to win one of more than a dozen EMS appreciation prizes.

Happy EMS Week! We're fortunate to work with great crews from all over our service area. To say "Thank You" we'll be giving away more than a dozen prizes to EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, first responders and dispatchers this week. Among the prizes are Royals tickets, Worlds of Fun tickets, dining cards, an iPad, a weekend getaway and more! Share the link below with your EMS friends and have them register to win the prizes. We’ll draw winners each day Monday thru Friday and announce them on our Facebook page:



Unsafe drone operation poses serious risk to helicopters

By Joe Coons
Director of Safety

Have you seen any of the “drone” videos on YouTube or other social media websites? Perhaps a gorgeous shot of the sunrise over a Mesa or maybe zooming over a crowd during a concert showing thousands bouncing in unison to the beat?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), oftentimes called drones, are used to make many of these videos. These small aircraft look like a spider with a small rotor disc at the end of each of its four to eight arms. They are most commonly designed to carry a camera or video camera to take aerial pictures, and as prices have come down, they’re becoming more and more common.

But so are the problems UAVs can create if not used with caution and good sense.

UAVs have been in the news a lot lately, from crashing into the White House grounds to flying illicit drugs over the border, unauthorized flights over Disney World to crashing into a crowd of people, and nearly colliding with manned aircraft.

UAVs are inexpensive and available from hobby stores and online retailers. They range in price from $30 up to thousands, and weigh from a few ounces up to 55 pounds. Technology makes flying them fairly simple – in fact, most of them can be charged up and flown right away. But because of this, many people don’t take a training course, don’t take the time learning how to control UAVs safely, and don’t know the laws about when and where it’s safe and legal to fly them.

In addition to the obvious dangers of crashing a UAV into a crowd of people or traffic, UAVs create serious issues with manned aircraft and medical helicopters, in particular.

Sometimes people want to get a bird’s eye view of an event or even an accident, so they launch their UAV to capture photos or videos. The problems arise when a helicopter is called to the scene and a UAV is nearby. UAVs are small, difficult to see, and can move quickly and erratically.

This creates risk for the helicopter and crew – a collision with a helicopter could have deadly consequences. At a minimum, it could delay care for a critically ill or injured patient who needs the help of the helicopter’s medical team.

There have been numerous near-misses between medical helicopters and UAVs recently.

Responsible use of UAVs can avoid a catastrophic accident, and knowing the rules is essential when operating one.

Here are just some of the rules from the FAA governing the use of UAVs:

* Without exception, a UAV operator is always required to give way and remain well clear of a manned aircraft

* They may fly only during daylight hours (? hr after sunrise to ? hr before sunset)

* They must be flown in sight of the pilot/operator

* They must see and avoid people and property

* Aircraft may not fly higher than 400 feet above the ground

* They must not be operated within 5 miles of an airport without notifying and getting permission from the Air Traffic Control Center

* They must not be operated within 5 miles of a hospital helipad without notifying and getting permission of the hospital

* They must comply with all Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs). These can be found at

* Hobby aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds

It should also be noted that video and photos are subject to state and local privacy laws. Furthermore, if a hobbyist is found in violation in any of the above regulations they are subject to fines from the FAA and even jail time.

UAVs are an exciting innovation and will serve a large role in the future of flight – someday helping to eliminate the risk to human lives. They are already being used for firefighting, electrical line evaluation, and making movies. All of these have received the blessing of the FAA on a commercial certification.

As more hobbyists adopt the technology and begin flying, we must ensure that all operators understand how to operate UAVs safely. If you own a UAV or are thinking about getting one, please remember that safety must come first, and that using common sense is the best rule of all.

For more information and guidelines for operating UAVs safely, visit



LifeFlight Eagle places two new Bell 407GX helicopters in service

LifeFlight Eagle invests in technology, safety upgrades with new helicopters in Trenton, Harrisonville

One of LifeFlight Eagle's new Bell 407GX helicopters sits on a dolly at the downtown airport in Kansas City during training. LifeFlight Eagle has replaced its helicopters based in Harrisonville and Trenton with two new state-of-the-art Bell 407GX helicopters. While they look similar on the outside to the helicopters they replace, the new aircraft feature technology and safety upgrades, including a glass-cockpit and two-axis autopilot, among others.

LifeFlight Eagle has placed into service two new state-of-the-art Bell 407GX helicopters at its Harrisonville and Trenton bases. The new aircraft were purchased as part of the non-profit organization’s fleet replacement program, and reflect LifeFlight Eagle’s ongoing commitment to the community to provide life-saving transport to critically ill and injured patients in Missouri and Kansas.

From the outside, the aircraft look very similar to the 10-year-old Bell 407 helicopters they replace, but inside the changes are remarkable. The most dramatic difference is in the pilot’s cockpit. Gone are the array of analog dials, now replaced by two large, glass flat-panel displays and electronic controls for the aircrafts' systems.

The pilot has a primary flight display in front of him, with a secondary display that can hold information like a moving map, airport information and engine monitoring instruments.

“The Garmin G1000H avionics suite is a very dynamic tool,” said Stu Buckingham, a pilot and business operations manager for LifeFlight Eagle’s air operator, PHI Air Medical.  “It enhances safety in a number of ways — most importantly, it assists the pilot in maintaining situational awareness through the twin screens. It displays things like converging air traffic, obstacles and terrain, and it has a terrain avoidance warning system to alert the pilot if the aircraft is approaching the ground unknowingly.”

“It also reduces pilot workload by presenting visual navigation and color-coded graphs of engine monitoring and aircraft performance. The pilot can take this information in at a glance — more quickly than with traditional gauges.”

One of the new aircraft’s most important safety upgrades is not very visible until it’s needed. The helicopters feature a two-axis autopilot system, which allows the pilot to set the aircraft to automatically control altitude and heading. In addition to reducing pilot fatigue on long flights, the autopilot provides important aircraft capabilities if the pilot encounters unforecasted weather conditions.  The helicopters have the ability to automatically level themselves with the autopilot system and climb to a safe altitude should the pilot lose visual reference to the ground.

Joe Coons, LifeFlight Eagle’s Director of Safety, said it was important to note that the new aircraft’s capabilities didn’t mean LifeFlight Eagle would now fly in questionable weather or low visibility, but that they provide an additional margin of safety should the pilot inadvertently fly into those conditions.

“Safety for our patients and our crews is at the core of everything we do,” Coons said. “We’re not going to accept a patient flight unless we have 100 percent certainty that we can safely deliver that patient to the hospital and the care they need.”

LifeFlight Eagle CEO Roxanne Shanks said the investment in new technology and safety enhancements was a reflection of the organization’s commitment to the communities it serves.

“Going all the way back to LifeFlight Eagle’s roots in 1978, we’ve had a close relationship with the community, and a great sense of responsibility to the community,” Shanks said. “As a non-profit organization, it’s more than patient flights for us. It’s about enhancing the communities we serve through partnership with EMS agencies, fire departments and hospitals, through education and by enhancing the quality and availability of emergency medical services for the people in these communities.”

“These new aircraft are simply an extension of these core values. They will help ensure that we are able to continue to provide safe, rapid transport and exceptional clinical care to critically ill and injured patients in these communities for years to come.”

“We couldn’t provide this service without the support of the community, though, and for that we are very grateful,” Shanks said. “The donations we receive and the support provided through our membership program are invaluable.”

LifeFlight Eagle is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides life-saving helicopter transport to critically ill and injured patients from communities within a 150-mile radius of Kansas City. It provides two Bell 407GX and two Bell 407 helicopters from bases in Trenton, Harrisonville, Odessa and Clinton, Mo. It also owns a larger Eurocopter EC-145 helicopter, which is dedicated to the Children’s Mercy Critical Care Transport Team. That aircraft is also equipped with a glass cockpit and fully integrated autopilot, and is capable of flying under Instrument Flight Rules. All LifeFlight Eagle helicopters are operated and maintained by PHI Air Medical.

For more information about LifeFlight Eagle or the LifeFlight Eagle membership program, contact Matt Daugherty at 816-283-9734 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Two LifeFlight Eagle nurses win prestigious state-wide awards

LifeFlight Eagle flight nurses Shirley Arnold and Sheila Kauffman won prestigious state-wide awards at the Missouri EMS Conference and Expo. Arnold, who works at LifeFlight Eagle’s Trenton base, was named MEMSA Nurse of the Year, and Kauffman, who works at LifeFlight Eagle’s Clinton base, was named Instructor/Coordinator of the Year.

LifeFlight Eagle nurses win 2013 MEMSA awards

They received their awards on July 31 at MEMSA’s annual meeting at the Missouri EMS Conference & Expo in Branson, Mo.


LifeFlight Eagle presents Sullivan County Ambulance, Milan Fire with Life Saver Awards

LifeFlight Eagle presented the Sullivan County Ambulance District and Milan Fire Department with Life Saver Awards on Monday, May 20, in recognition of exceptional performance helping save a life under difficult circumstances last year.

On April 30, 2012, a 16-year-old boy in Milan was riding his 4-wheeler when he crashed into a deep concrete spillway. He was severely injured in the crash, but after regaining consciousness, somehow managed to climb partway out of the ditch before his friends found him and called for help.

Sullivan County Ambulance District Paramedic Matt Keuhn responded to the call and found every paramedic’s worst nightmare: the patient was his child.

LifeFlight Eagle presented the Sullivan County Ambulance District and Milan Fire Department with Life Saver 
Awards on Monday, May 20, in recognition of exceptional performance helping save a life under difficult 
circumstances last year. Pictured are Vivian Hall, left, Barbara Hostetter, Donald Murphy, Ryan Keuhn,
Eagle CEO Roxanne Shanks, Matt Keuhn, LifeFlight Eagle base manager Rich Cunningham, Lonnie
LifeFlight Eagle flight nurse Angie Jedlicka, Charles Emberton, John Bushnell and Robert Armes.


Teenager defies odds to survive severe trauma from wreck


Jackson Hill had his summer planned out. He was working out, getting ready for his senior football season at Lee’s Summit High School. The 17-year-old had a well-paying job with a moving company that helped him bulk up for his starting spot as an outside linebacker. He had just finished football camp and was looking forward to a little time off.

Instead, he spent the summer fighting for his life.

After running some errands on June 13, Jackson had some time to kill before heading to Holden for a friend’s going-away party. He decided to go visit his sister, Tabitha, in Warrensburg and headed that direction on Missouri Route 13.

Jackson topped a hill speeding on his motorcycle and found a car stopped in the middle of the road in front of him waiting to turn. He tried to swerve left to avoid the car, but clipped its left rear fender and veered directly into the path of an oncoming car, striking it at full speed.

“I remember laying there, and I was mainly worried about my bike and how bad it was hurt,” Jackson later recalled. “’Cause I didn’t realize near how bad everything was.”

“I was worried, you know that I probably had some road rash. I was worried about getting back up, that my dad was going to be mad and whatnot. But I was definitely thinking that I was going to get back up and be on my way.”

But Jackson had suffered massive trauma. His right leg was amputated below the knee. Every bone in both legs was severely broken. His left ankle and foot were shattered. He had a broken pelvis and a massive, deep laceration extending from his hip nearly to his groin.

Jackson lay crumpled and broken on the centerline of the highway.


Working with local schools to curb drinking and driving

Harrisonville firefighters work on securing Bailey Warner Harrisonville High School student on a backboard to prepare her for a flight from a docudrama scene in the parking lot of Harrisonville High School, May 15, 2010. Harrisonville police, fire and EMS enlisted the help of LifeFlight Eagle to help teach students the dangers of drinking and driving by staging a mock car crash. During the demonstration, the student was removed from the vehicle, as it would happen it real life, in an effort to save her life, while another student was tested and arrested for drunk driving. LifeFlight Eagle was called in to fly the student out.


Quick intervention saves another life

Harold DenmanIt was a typical Wednesday evening Dec. 2, 2009, for mechanic Harold Denman. He was working on a truck when he started feeling a little queasy.

“There had been a bug going around, so I just thought I was getting a cold, didn’t think much of it,” said 56-year-old Denman.

But his supervisor saw something Denman didn’t see.

Denman was pulling a part from the back room when he told his


EMS Week Fun

LifeFlight Eagle Paramedics, Damon Akers, left, and Robert Langston run the three legged race on crutches in the last leg of a relay race May 21, in Clinton, Mo. The relay was part of Golden Valley Memorial Hospital EMS Challenge for EMS Week. Surrounding EMS, Fire and Law Enforcement officials along with LifeFlight Eagle participated in the annual event. LifeFlight Eagle won the relay.


LifeFlight Eagle is a CAMTS Accredited Program