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California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) Leads the Way in Pioneering Helicopter Modification Which is Expected to Greatly Enhance Safety and Save Lives
Date:6/25/2009

California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) has the first helicopter in the world modified to allow for dramatically enhanced abilities and increased safety to make landings while using Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), Joseph Cook, CALSTAR's President and CEO announced today.

(PRWEB) June 25, 2009 -- California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) has the first helicopter in the world modified to allow for dramatically enhanced abilities and increased safety to make landings while using Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), Joseph Cook, CALSTAR's President and CEO announced today. The modification, according to Cook, will no doubt save countless numbers of lives.

With CALSTAR having served as the pioneer for this new technology, it is anticipated that many rescue helicopters throughout the world will be modified in a similar way.

Deborah Pardee, director for CALSTAR's Coastal Valleys Region and who is based at CALSTAR IV in Ukiah, said flight crews are still training on the modified helicopter routes and approaches but they be should be in use in the very near future.

Paul G. Likens, lead pilot for CALSTAR IV, explained that the new system will allow pilots to make significantly more landings in inclement weather. As an example, when making an approach to the Ukiah Municipal Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that if pilots bring their aircraft down to an altitude of 1,107 feet above ground and still cannot see the landing site they must abort the landing. The new vertical guidance system will allow pilots to descend their aircraft to 364 feet to see the landing site. "This is a tremendous difference," Likens said. "We will be able to make landings that up until this modification would have been impossible."

Cook and Pardee noted that Likens worked tirelessly in collaboration with the system's developers--Hickok & Associates in Alabama--designer of the approaches and low altitude routes and Garmin International, designers of the aircraft avionics systems, for more than two years to get the system approved by the FAA. Garmin International is headquartered in Salem, OR. "It was a tedious, difficult process but it was well worth it," Likens said. "Without a doubt we will be able to more safely complete the transportation of the gravely ill and victims of trauma."

In addition to the new flight system, Hickok & Associates was able to establish nearly 200 miles of off-airway/feeder routes to provide Minimum Instrument Altitudes (MIA) enroute to approaches. "What this means is that we will be able to travel directly on our own private low altitude routes," Likens said.

Primary beneficiaries of the new system will be patients who need to be taken to or picked up from Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) in Ukiah, Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH), in Fort Bragg, and Redwood Coast Medical Services (RCMS) in Gualala. Two years ago CALSTAR placed an Automated Weather Observation System at MCDH. "With the addition of these new approaches, CALSTAR is in the best possible position to pick-up or deliver patients during inclement weather, particularly to its coastal medical facilities," Pardee said.

According to CALSTAR Director of Development and Outreach Mike Nichols, these dramatic improvements would not have been possible without the help of several very generous grants. "Our sincere thanks goes out to the Allen-Heath Memorial Foundation, the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, the George and Ruth Bradford Foundation, Wells Fargo and the Ukiah Wal-Mart Store," he said.

CALSTAR is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization that serves all of Central and Northern California as well as parts of Nevada. In September of this year it will mark its 25th anniversary. Cook noted that CALSTAR is widely recognized as being a leader in the industry. Since its inception CALSTAR has completed over 38,000 flights with an excellent safety record, with no aircraft accidents injuring either patients or crew members.
   
All flight crews are made up of a pilot and two registered nurses. "This is considered to be the gold standard for air ambulance Crews," Cook said. Pilots must have as a minimum a commercial pilot's certificate, an instrument rating and 3,000 hours as pilot in command.

CALSTAR is fully accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS), an internationally recognized agency that reviews, inspects and provides credentials to medical transport organizations that meet a comprehensive list of established standards.

As a non-profit organization, CALSTAR offers memberships to companies large and small as well as to individuals. For a nominal fee, individuals and their families can become CALSTAR members. If a member is flown by CALSTAR or one of its affiliates, CALSTAR will accept the patient's insurance reimbursement, if any, as payment in full.

For information on how to become a CALSTAR member call 1-888-207-LIFE (5433).

Contact:
Gene Hall (707) 365-4310

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/CALSTAR/helicopter_safety/prweb2573294.htm.


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