2,178 Americans will have a stroke today. 365 people will die as a result. Countless others will be left with life-altering disability.

Strokes are the 4th leading cause of death in our country. More than twice as many American women will die from a stroke this year than will die from breast cancer.

These numbers are staggering, but medical technology has advanced dramatically in recent years. Many strokes can now be reversed if symptoms are caught early and patients receive treatment immediately.

Each year, LifeFlight Eagle flies hundreds of stroke patients from small communities to comprehensive stroke centers that can provide life-saving care or surgical intervention.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, LifeFlight Eagle and the City of Chillicothe broke ground on LifeFlight Eagle’s new north-central Missouri base at the Chillicothe Airport.

“We’re thrilled to get this project underway and to become a bigger part of this community,” said Roxanne Shanks, LifeFlight Eagle’s CEO, at a celebration luncheon that followed a frigid shovel ceremony. “This community has been so welcoming.”

“We’re extremely grateful to the City of Chillicothe and to all of you for making this happen,” Shanks said to the room full of city officials, emergency responders, community and business leaders and LifeFlight Eagle personnel. “We’re truly blessed to have great partners to work with at the city, at the hospital, and at the Fire Department. We look forward to working with everyone here even further in the future as we explore ways to positively impact the community.”

Last week, the city council awarded the contract to construct the hangar and crew quarters to Burman Construction out of Ozark, Mo., which had submitted the low bid. Construction will begin on the facility within the next 10 days, and is expected to be completed in August, 2017.

LifeFlight Eagle recently participated in a dedication event for a new helipad that community members built for the residents of Hale, Mo., and surrounding communities.

LifeFlight Eagle Flight Nurse Butch LeRoy, left, Hale City Lodge member Lloyd Lyons, Hale Lions Club members Bob Maddox, Gene Foster and Harold Shatto, and LifeFlight Eagle Flight Paramedic Damon Akers prepare for the ribbon cutting of the new helipad.

LifeFlight Eagle Communications Center coordinates among agencies to ensure safety, speed

Rather than taking 9-1-1 calls directly, LifeFlight Eagle responds to calls for assistance from fire departments, EMS organizations, law enforcement or hospitals.

These calls come into LifeFlight Eagle's Communications Center, which serves as the nerve center and hub for inter-agency communication, coordination and safety.

In February 2012, LifeFlight Eagle presented the "Life Saver Award" to Cole Camp (Mo.) EMS in recognition of outstanding life-saving service to its community.

"We are pleased to recognize Cole Camp EMS for their efforts to improve the lives of those in their community," said Joey Araiza, LifeFlight Eagle's Vice President of Clinical Services. "Their commitment to critical care education and their life-saving response to time critical illnesses like stroke and heart attack have had a positive impact in the lives of patients in Benton County."

When it comes to treating cardiac and stroke patients, time is critical.

Every moment of delay in getting a patient to an appropriate care facility means potentially more muscle or neurological damage, and reduces the chance that a patient will make a full recovery.

In early October, LifeFlight Eagle partnered with four frequent referring hospitals in its coverage area to launch a pilot program with the goal of reducing the time it takes to prepare a critically ill patient to fly.

Shortly before he was discharged after spending months in the hospital recovering from his injuries, Jackson Hill and his family had the opportunity to reunite and thank the people who helped save his life.

Research Medical Center held a Great Save Celebration to honor EMS first responders from the Johnson County Ambulance District, the flight crew from LifeFlight Eagle and numerous teams from Research that helped treat Jackson after he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident on June 13.

LifeFlight Eagle was presented with a plaque for its help with a new helipad constructed at H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in Osceola. Called "Scout Nest Helipad," it was dedicated in memory of James Hammontree, "Medicine Man Silver Distant Fox," who along with his wife, Linda, was the project's primary benefactor.

LifeFlight Eagle Safety Coordinator Joe Coons and Base Manager Jim Johnson represented LifeFlight Eagle at the event, which also included a fly-in by LifeFlight Eagle's Clinton-based Bell 407 helicopter.

New base in Lafayette County is closer to the communities it serves

Eagle 3 and its crew, previously based at Central Jackson County Fire Protection District Station #3 in Blue Springs, Mo., are moving to a newly built base just east of Odessa, Mo., in Lafayette County, near the intersection of state Highways M & O and Interstate 70.

LifeFlight Eagle's other helicopters will continue to operate out of their current base locations in Trenton, Harrisonville and Clinton, Mo.

LifeFlight Eagle recently completed an upgrade of its Communications Center, where all emergency medical flights are managed and tracked

After several months of planning and training, LifeFlight Eagle's Communications Specialists have moved into a new facility and are using new Computer Aided Dispatch software.

Communication Specialists are the first point of contact for local fire departments, emergency medical services or hospitals when a patient's condition requires air transport.

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