New chopper saving lives in the skies above Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Time is of the essence when illness or accident strikes. Now a new helicopter is now flying over Charleston taking patients to the hospital safely and quickly.

Jimmy Wooten, a bailiff, recalls when he recently passed out at the Hampton County Courthouse.

"They realized I was having a major stroke and they immediately got me out and got medivac on the way to pick me up to take me to Charleston, MUSC," Wooten said.

Medical professionals determined Wooten needed life saving treatment he could only get at MUSC, and the hospital's new helicopter transported him from Hampton County to Charleston in about 30 minutes. The hospital had just partnered with the Texas-based Med Trans company to bring the helicopter here.

"We are a very fast and rapid way to transport patients when they're in critical need, but we have the ability of functioning as an ICU that's in the air," Med Trans Program Manager Tina Frey said.

Life-saving features include: Weather radars, a terrain warning system, a traffic collision device, and all the medical equipment you would find in a critical care unit, to care for neonatal patients up to those of elderly age.

The helicopter will be based in North Charleston at the Landmark Aviation hangar and typically a crew with a pilot, nurse and EMT will go out on the flights.

For patients like Wooten, MUSC's Med Trans chopper got him where he needed to be quickly and safely, where doctors saved his life.

"There's only three doctors in the state that can perform this type of surgery, he said all three of them are in the room with you," Wooten said.

MUSC currently operates just the one EC135 twin engine helicopter with Med Trans. It's worth $7 million and is certified and tested with the FAA. It took flight on June 30th and has transported nearly 50 patients to date.

Copyright 2011 WCSC. All rights reserved.