Emergency transport services provided by University of Mississippi Medical Center include two helicopters. The newest is based in Jackson, and the other (added in 2009) flies out of Meridian. Both are equipped with autopilot systems, color weather radar systems and anti-collision instruments as well as full heating and air-conditioning systems to ensure patient comfort.
AirCare helicopter flights began in 1996. Since then, more than 1.7 million miles have been logged and 13,000 patients have been transported with a perfect safety record. (The original helicopter, LifeStar, was in service from 1983-90.) The UMMC choppers are the only emergency helicopters in the state that are instrument rated, allowing them to fly in almost any weather, except dense fog, tornadic winds and ice.
Medical flight crews, easily identified by their blue jumpsuits, include dedicated flight nurses and flight paramedics, and they work closely with UMMC's adult and pediatric emergency medicine, critical care and neonatal services. The flight nurses all hold specialty distinctions, and the paramedics have advanced critical care training and extensive emergency-based backgrounds.
Flight requests and aircraft communications are the responsibility of Mississippi MedCom. In addition to aircraft communications, MedCom is ready to serve the needs of emergency responders and healthcare providers statewide during routine operations and in support of disasters or mass casualty incidents. MedCom is staffed 24/7 with experienced paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
Helicopter safety tips
- Do not approach the landing zone while the helicopter is landing or departing.
- Approach the helicopter from the front or side.
- If the helicopter lands on a hill, never approach from the uphill side.
- Do not wear hats around the running aircraft.
- Never walk under the tail of the helicopter.
- No smoking within 100 feet of the aircraft.
- Never shine bright lights or headlights at the aircraft during landing or liftoff.
- No ambulances or other vehicles are permitted within 50 feet of the aircraft.