Kona hospital welcomes new helicopter


Kona Community Hospital welcomed a new emergency medical helicopter after it made its maiden landing on the hospital’s helipad Thursday afternoon. The Hawaii Life Flight crew manning the chopper was greeted by the hospital administration, trauma team, emergency and security departments.

The program at Kona Community Hospital, which officially became operational at 7 a.m. Friday, made its first emergency transfer at 10:15 a.m.

Hawaii Life Flight has been contracted to operate the American Eurocopter AS350 Be. The helicopter was configured for medical emergency transport prior to arrival on the Big Island. The Thursday landing gave the flight crew a chance to familiarize hospital trauma, emergency and security personnel to the new aircraft.

The helicopter, also referred to as an AStar helicopter, is stationed at Kona International Airport and is dedicated to Kona Community Hospital for facility-to-facility patient transport. Initially, it will fly daytime hours only from 7 a.m. to dark, based on the pilot’s discretion and flight turn-around time. Soon, however, the program will provide 24/7 access to emergency transfer from Kona hospital.

The hospital’s trauma team will coordinate patient transfers with the Hawaii Life Flight critical care communications. Once activated, the AStar can make the trip from the airport to the hospital in eight minutes. The flight to Maui can be made in approximately 35 minutes. Additionally, it will cut transit time down from the four hours it currently takes to transport a patient to Oahu, to about one hour — depending on weather conditions.