Lutheran adding third helicopter to cover growing air medical transport needs in northwestern Indiana

Lutheran Air III will be based in Knox

Knox, Ind. (Dec. 14, 2016) – To further expand patient access to critical and specialty care, a third Lutheran Air helicopter is being added to Lutheran Hospital’s critical care transport fleet. Beginning Thursday, the home base for Lutheran Air III will be Starke County Airport in Knox. The helicopter will go into service at 7:30 a.m. CST.

The arrival of Lutheran Air III in northwestern Indiana will provide patients, hospitals and first responders in the region with greater access to the lifesaving care a medical helicopter and its crew can facilitate. Included in that list of beneficiaries are Lutheran’s sister facilities Starke Hospital in Knox, La Porte Hospital, Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso and Kosciusko Community Hospital in Warsaw.

“We are happy to deliver this type of service to communities that need the quality and consistency we’re able to provide,” said Brian Bauer, chief executive officer, Lutheran Health Network. “The addition of a third Lutheran Air helicopter is a reflection of how quickly our program has grown over the past 13 years – something that would not have been possible without the dedication of our team and the support of first responders all across northern Indiana.”    

The Lutheran Air III crew will be stationed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a new 1,500-square-foot office and its adjoining hangar at the airport. Like the other aircraft in the Lutheran fleet, Lutheran Air III will be an EC135. The helicopter’s addition has led to the creation of 16 new positions on Lutheran’s critical care transport team, including pilots, flight mechanics and medical crew members. Several of the new positions were filled by professionals from the Starke County area.

“Lutheran Air’s choice of our airport for its newest helicopter is a huge win for the health of all who live and work in this area, and another example of the importance of aviation to Starke County and its businesses,” said James R. Long, president, Starke County Airport Authority.

The Lutheran Air flight program is based at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. Lutheran Air I flies out of Portland Municipal Airport and Lutheran Air II flies out of Wabash Municipal Airport. The location of each helicopter in Lutheran’s fleet is determined in part by identifying areas in northern Indiana and western Ohio where there are gaps in the availability of immediate air medical transport. Starke County Airport, 1795 N 200 E, is located approximately 95 miles northwest of Fort Wayne and approximately 83 miles southeast of Chicago.     

“We are very pleased to see this project come to fruition, and to have the investment of a leading-edge critical care transport service right here in our own community,” said Jeff Vice, interim CEO of Starke Hospital and COO of La Porte Hospital. “Being able to connect Starke and its surrounding counties to highly advanced medical care is part of our mission to improve the health of our patients and the region. We are now able to provide faster access to critical services like heart and kidney transplant programs, major trauma centers, and more.”

Although Lutheran Air is primarily known for transporting seriously injured patients from the scene of an accident or burn patients, another important service of the flight program is to quickly transport patients who are in need of various other forms of advanced care. The Lutheran Air program is part of a full spectrum of critical and specialty services offered by Lutheran Health Network. They include level II adult and pediatric trauma centers at Lutheran Hospital, the St. Joseph Regional Burn Center and prehospital EMS coverage in Fulton, Kosciusko, Miami, Wabash and Whitley counties.  

In addition to Lutheran Air helicopters, Lutheran’s critical care transport fleet includes more than 25 ambulances located throughout northern Indiana.

Lutheran contracts with Air Methods to provide the aircraft, pilots and flight mechanics. Air Methods was the first helicopter and EMS operator in the country to reach Level 4 of the voluntary Safety Management System program overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration. Currently, Air Methods is in transition to conform to the next level of the FAA’s voluntary SMS program.



Geoff Thomas
Public Relations Supervisor
Lutheran Health Network

Stacey Kellogg
Regional Manager, Community Relations
La Porte Hospital, Starke Hospital, Porter Regional Hospital

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