For Immediate Release
April 3, 2003
Illinois Air Medical Community Stunned Over Closing of Meigs and the Implications on Critical Patient Transport into Downtown Chicago Hospitals
The Illinois Association of Air and Critical Care Transport (IAACCT) and its members are extremely concerned over the recent closing of Meigs Field and how it will affect the movement of critically ill/injured patients into (and possibly out of) downtown Chicago hospitals. Until Sunday, patients have been airlifted into Meigs by helicopter and/or fixed-wing aircraft and then transported a short distance by ground to area hospitals. Now, with the closure of Meigs, there are no approved landing zones or helipads in the immediate downtown area.
The state's 11 air-medical helicopter and fixed-wing programs transport an average of 200 complex medical and/or trauma patients, as well as organ transplant teams, to hospitals in the downtown area each year from outlying hospitals throughout Illinois, parts of Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana.
According to Craig Fe1ty, President of IAACCT, "The patients we transport are time-critical, complex cases that demand the time-saving and advanced clinical care that an air-medical crew provides. Without an approved landing area in close proximity to downtown, whether it is for a helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft, the patients may now have to be transported greater distances by ground from a suitable landing area. In my opinion, these potential delays definitely could have a negative impact on patients destined for downtown facilities."
Another concern of IAACCT is the air transport of patients out of the city of Chicago. An example of the need to rapidly transport patients out of downtown facilities would include situations involving catastrophic injuries or illnesses affecting the city. Air-medical helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft could provide rapid transport of patients to other facilities to reduce censuses, open up needed beds, and free up valuable resources at downtown hospitals. Meigs Field provided an excellent facility for this sort of disaster, allowing safe, efficient, and rapid access by multiple aircraft.
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