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A speedier response time to emergencies

Echo Press photo by Celeste Beam Once the helicopter landed at Douglas County Hospital, Jamie Jordan, flight nurse, gave a thumbs up to Life Link III pilot, Mike Kooseman.1 / 3
Echo Press photo by Celeste Beam Mike Reid, a flight medic with Life Link III, surveyed the area the helicopter was flying over.2 / 3
Echo Press photo by Celeste Beam This aerial view shows the landing area for Life Link III at Douglas County Hospital.3 / 3

Minutes matter in medical emergencies.

That's why Douglas County residents will be happy to hear about a new addition at the Alexandria Airport.

Beginning on April 21, Life Link III, a leader in ground and air transport for medical emergencies, opened its fifth helicopter base at Chandler Field.

Having a base right here in Alexandria means critical care patients now have to wait just a few minutes, if not seconds, if they need to be airlifted to another medical facility.

Life Link III, which has four bases in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin, provides critical care, advanced life support and basic life support transportation for patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin and throughout the United States via helicopter, ground ambulance and airplane ambulance.

Ground operations are based in Minneapolis with an additional ground 911 and inter-facility base in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.

Besides its newest helicopter base in Alexandria, Life Link III has bases in Hutchinson, Hibbing and Blaine in Minnesota and in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Service is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency and non-emergency transfers.

The Alexandria base, which is stationed at the Alexandria Airport, has four pilots assigned to it, along with five flight nurses and five flight medics. The crew rotates and will work three, 12-hour shifts at a time.

While on duty, the flight crew will live in a new mobile home that is parked out at Chandler Field, right on the airport property.

Two of the crew members - Mike Reid, a flight medic and Jamie Jordan, a flight nurse - visited with the newspaper last week.

Reid noted that the Alexandria-based Life Link helicopter can fly to where it's needed, whether it's to the Douglas County Hospital or to the scene of an emergency.

Jordan added that all the helicopter basically needs is a hard surface, about 100-feet by 100-feet, preferably free of trees and power lines or other wires. The helicopter has landed on roads, in medians and fields.

Lift-off time takes between five and 10 minutes and the flight from the Alexandria Airport to the hospital takes less than one minute. The helicopter can travel at speeds of 150 miles per hour, noted Reid.

Any hospital, first responder, law enforcement officer or emergency personnel can request the Life Link helicopter.

If the helicopter is needed at the hospital for a patient transport, the doctor will determine where the patient will be transported to, said Reid.

However, Jordan noted that if the helicopter is summoned to a scene, the medic and the nurse are more involved as to what facility the patient would be transferred to.

"Alexandria is very fortunate to have such a valuable resource in this area," said Reid.

Both Reid and Jordan said, "We are excited to be here."

History of

Life Link III

Life Link III began in 1974, under the name of Bio Medical Research Associates (BMRA), as a pioneer in the industry by providing intra-aortic balloon pump support, Swan-Ganz and other hemodynamic monitoring services to hospitals.

Recognizing a need for critical care transportation services, the company designed special mobile units to provide transportation for critically ill patients.

In 1985, BMRA was purchased by three Twin Cities hospitals, largely to operate a cost-effective helicopter service, and became Life Link III.

Today, Life Link operates a non-profit corporation, with nine consortium members, which include:

•Allina Hospital and Clinics.

•Fairview Health Services.

•Regions Hospital.

•St. Cloud Hospital/CentraCare Health System.

•St. Mary's Medical Center.

•Children's Hopsitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

•Hennepin County Medical Center.

•St. Luke's.

•Sacred Heart Hospital of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Life Link III is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems.

About the staff

Critical care team members have either hospital intensive care or emergency room experience.

The more than 170 clinical staff members undergo extensive, continual in-service education to ensure the most advanced critical care and technology are provided to any patient requiring specialized care.

If needed, specialized teams and/or physicians will accompany Life Link III transport team members.

Pilots are experienced aviators and have each logged thousands of hours of flying time. They also take on-going recurrent training in their respective areas.

For more information about Life Link III, visit its website at