A move by Vanderbilt LifeFlight will park a fixed-wing air ambulance permanently at the Lebanon Municipal Airport.
Vanderbilt LifeFlight has moved its fixed wing air ambulance from the Nashville International Airport to the Lebanon Municipal Airport.
According to Vanderbilt LifeFlight’s public affairs manager Jerry Jones, the move comes as Nashville International Airport continues to grow. The increased traffic reduces the site’s effectiveness during emergency situations.
This is not the first LifeFlight aircraft that has been housed at the Lebanon Municipal Airport. From 2004-2020, LifeFlight housed a helicopter there before moving it to Gallatin.
The Lebanon Municipal Airport was chosen for several reasons including Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s investment in Wilson County. Vanderbilt now has a hospital, a ground ambulance base and now its airplane is based in Lebanon.
“We no longer have to wait in line for someone to pull our aircraft out of the hangar or refuel,” said Keith Evans, MSN, air medical transport manager with Vanderbilt LifeFlight. “The Lebanon airport has an (instrument landing system) and GPS approach. Its proximity to Nashville, along with less traffic for getting in and out, made it the perfect spot.”
Evans boiled the decision down to practicality.
“Distance and time are the main concerts,” he said. The Lebanon airport gives them both.
The LifeFlight base will have a staff consisting of five pilots, two mechanics and 10 medical crew members. Staff are onsite around the clock and will be ready to respond to any request.
Vanderbilt LifeFlight started offering fixed-wing (airplane) services in 2004 as the hospital system worked to expand air and ground transport programs.
The medically-configured Pilatus PC-12 has a range of 1,742 miles. It can cruise at altitudes up to 30,000 feet while traveling at speeds approximately 300 MPH. It is also used to transport patients to destinations in the United States for elective or emergency flights.
A shortened runway requirement means the plane can take off from, and land on, runways as short as 3,000 feet. This feature makes it an ideal aircraft for use in rural communities. It also has an extra wide 53-inch cargo door for easy loading and unloading of medical equipment and patients, and is equipped with a multi-function ventilator, cardiac monitors, medical oxygen, compressed medical air, IV pumps and an array of medications.
The flight crew is trained to transport neonatal, pediatric and adult patients, as well as high-risk obstetrics, multi-system trauma and burn patients, and organ-transplant recipients.
“Our fixed-wing probably does about 40 flights a month,” Evans said. “Some are either bringing patients to Vanderbilt or from Vanderbilt to other facilities that are specialty care outside of what Vanderbilt does or to be closer to home.”