Med Flight History

For Health Professionals

Arranging Emergency Transport

UW Health Med Flight crew and helicopterEstablished in 1985, Med Flight has built a solid reputation for advanced critical care air transport.

The Early Years
Med Flight's first operational flight was in April 1985 and carried a heart attack patient from Coloma, Wisconsin. Our initial staff included three doctors, six nurses, three pilots and one mechanic. There was no aircraft hangar and maintenance was performed outside with re-fueling at Dane County regional airport.

Flight physicians have been a staple of the Med Flight program from the beginning, and continue to be a differentiating factor in the care Med Flight provides. Flying a physician, rare for a medical helicopter service, allows for a higher-level of care than the traditional nurse/paramedic programs and ensures UW Health is able to maintain its excellent reputation for quality patient care in all venues. Together with a dedicated team of flight nurses, pilots and communication specialists, the dedicated staff of Med Flight has continually elevated the quality of care with each passing year.

Education and Response
Long a leader in emergency education, Med Flight continues today with the highly-regarded Emergency Care and Trauma Symposium, where scores of emergency medical providers learn about the latest developments in critical care transport. One notable conference included the staging of a mock airline disaster, turning the university's Natatorium into the scene of a major incident.

Advances in safety equipment have kept pace with industry practice, with Med Flight becoming certified in instrument-rated flying in the early 1990s, allowing for an increase in the ability to respond together with an increased margin of safety.

Med Flight Today
Nearly 30 years later, Med Flight is staffed by a rotating crew of 20 doctors, 12 nurses, eight communication specialists and six pilots and has a helicopter available around-the-clock, with two flying during the busy daytime hours. In 2005, a heliport complete with re-feuling station, hydraulically-heated landing pads, twin hangars and a full-service communications center was constructed on UW Hospital and Clinic's eighth-floor rooftop, replacing the parking lot landing pad.