Mayo helicopter will be based in Mankato
By Jeff Hansel
Mayo Clinic plans to transfer the base for one of its two medical helicopters to Mankato Regional Airport in October.
For the past three years, crews have worked from Mankato on weekends. But a study showed enough calls to make the transfer.
"We're shifting that second aircraft, full-time now, out to Mankato," said Glenn Lyden, communications consultant for Mayo One.
The Mankato City Council today is expected to approve a request from Mayo to lease a site at the city-owned airport to install a headquarters and living facilities for the helicopter's pilots and crew. Tom Allenstein of Mayo Medical Transport said the Mankato-based helicopter service will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week. One pilot and two medical staff always will be on duty.
Lyden said Mayo's service now will reach an additional 110 miles, including a 200-mile circumference around Mankato, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Mankato helicopter will continue to provide service in Rochester when needed.
After 9 p.m., Lyden said, law enforcement, first responders and hospitals still can request flights. Transfers between hospitals make up 85 percent of the helicopter's service. Patients are taken from local hospitals to regional ones, or from the primary care setting to more advanced care. The other 15 percent of calls are trauma and medical patients, including those from motor vehicle accidents, recreational vehicle crashes and farm injuries, Lyden said.
Allenstein said that in the past year the helicopter made about 275 trips in the Mankato region.
Lyden said Mayo's medical helicopter offers a higher level of care than patients would be able to receive, even from other helicopter services. He said research has shown that patients taken to hospitals with advanced-care helicopters need less time to recover in the hospital and need to undergo fewer procedures, because they receive advanced care within the "golden hour," the critical first minutes after a patient needs help.
People might think the helicopter is needed to get them to the hospital faster, he said. But what many people don't understand is that the helicopter's biggest benefit is bringing health providers who can perform high levels of care and help patients on the way to the hospital.
"It really is enhanced service out there to those patients," Lyden said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.