The Health Care District of Palm Beach County is celebrating the recent arrival of the first of two Leonardo AW169 helicopters. The AW169 helicopters were selected for Trauma Hawk following more than a decade of planning. It’s anticipated that the second helicopter will also be delivered this month.
“This marks a new era in the district’s commitment to delivering safe, high-quality trauma services to our community,” said Darcy J. Davis, CEO of the Health Care District. “These state-of-the-art helicopters will provide swift and efficient air transportation to enhance patient access to critical medical services and improved healthcare outcomes.”
The Leonardo AW169 helicopters will replace the current Sikorsky S76-C+ aircraft, which have served the Health Care District and Palm Beach County since 1999. The new aircraft will remain out of service during a transition period while the flight team and mechanics complete specialized training to ensure a seamless shift to the new helicopters early next year.
“The Health Care District’s aeromedical program has been a key component of Palm Beach County’s integrated trauma system for more than 30 years,” said Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke, medical director of the Health Care District’s aeromedical and ground transportation programs, as well as the medical director for Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue. “These new, technologically advanced aircraft will play a key role in EMS response by providing critically ill and injured patients access to safe and rapid air transport in a county with a land area larger than the state of Rhode Island.”
One of the new standout features of the AW169 is its longitudinal roll-on stretcher system. This technology minimizes patient movement during loading and unloading, providing a safe and efficient means of transport directly to a specialized medical center, like one of the county’s two Level 1 trauma centers. As a result, the Trauma Hawk medical team will no longer need to transfer patients onto hospital stretchers at the helipad, saving crucial minutes during lifesaving missions.
“These new aircraft are a leap forward in technology for both the pilots and the medical crews,” said Jay Mazzone, the Health Care District’s director of aeromedical transportation. “With advanced avionics, larger and brighter displays, and the added capability of night vision goggles, we are moving into the next generation of aircraft that will help us maintain and enhance our relentless focus on safety.”
The air medical team aboard the Health Care District’s FAA-certified air ambulances includes at least one Health Care District commercial instrument-rated pilot along with PBCFR medical personnel. In addition to the pilots, the district employs a team of aviation technicians and program support staff. Learn more at www.hcdpbc.org.