30 years and 11,000 patients later, LifeFlight still saving live - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

30 years and 11,000 patients later, LifeFlight still saving lives

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On board during a transport is the pilot, a nurse and a paramedic to give care to the patient until they land at the hospital. On board during a transport is the pilot, a nurse and a paramedic to give care to the patient until they land at the hospital.

30 years ago from Tuesday, St. Mary's started its air medical service, LifeFlight. Since then, LifeFlight has transported nearly 11,000 patients with an accident free record. 

You can bet the patients who had to take a flight are grateful for it.

Two and half year old Grace Wargel had a close call in March when she nearly drowned in a pond near her family's home in Southern Illinois.

"If it wasn't for LifeFlight we probably wouldn't be standing here today with Grace," said Grace's mom, Lori Wargel.

After the incident, Grace was immediately rushed to the local hospital. After about half an hour, LifeFlight was there to transport her to Evansville.

"Living in a rural community like we do, your only option is an ambulance. When you have an emergency like that, you don't want to waste a lot of time. It took 20 minutes versus an hour and 15 minutes to get here," Wargel said.

"We're about two miles a minute so the nice thing about being in the air is not only the speed, but we don't have traffic lights to deal with. It's a direct shot. We can go to point A to point B a lot faster," said Pat Rauscher, the Director of LifeFlight.

Rauscher says LifeFlight is essentially an 'air ambulance'. On board during a transport is the pilot, a nurse and a paramedic to give care to the patient until they land at the hospital.

"Our crews have some capabilities that ground crews don't have. We're a flying ICU and a flying ER. We carry blood. We're able to put chest tubes in, take care of difficult air ways and some things sometimes you can't deal with on the ground," Rauscher said.

Little Gracie's family says it was that care that saved her life, and after almost four weeks at the hospital, she's made a full recovery.

St. Mary's LifeFlight makes one to two transports each day. Grace and her family were able to reunite and celebrate with her flight crew on Tuesday.

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