013118-blm-loc-1lifeflight

OSF Life Flight will base a helicopter at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington and OSF HealthCare Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac, OSF announced this week. The helicopter shown in the photograph is at OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria.

BLOOMINGTON — OSF Life Flight will base a helicopter at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington and OSF HealthCare Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac to better serve residents of OSF HealthCare's eastern region.

The Life Flight helicopter will be at St. Joseph or Saint James on a rotating schedule between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. seven days a week, weather permitting, to provide area residents with faster access to care in emergencies, OSF HealthCare announced this week.

St. Joseph and Saint James already were served by Life Flight helicopters but now one will be based at both hospitals, OSF spokeswoman Libby Allison said.

The move is a reallocation of one of the service's four existing helicopters.

"It will provide a more timely response in our eastern region, enabling patients' quicker access to definitive care when minutes truly make a difference," Karen Arndt, OSF Life Flight outreach coordinator, said in a written statement.

The service change is being phased in as more pilots and nurses are hired, Allison said.

Life Flight is used for heart attacks, trauma cases, stroke and other events when access to care is paramount, Allison said.

OSF Life Flight helicopters are based in Galesburg from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week and then back in the Peoria hangar overnight, 24/7 in Peru and 24/7 in Rockford, Allison said.

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal is served by medical air ambulances but one is not based there, spokesman Eric Alvin said.

OSF Life Flight's four air ambulances log more than 1,800 flights annually. The Life Flight team includes pilots, flight nurses, flight paramedics, flight communication specialists, mechanics and other support personnel.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Editor

Health Editor for The Pantagraph.

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