Paramedic Michael Jones, of Flight for Life, shows children the back of the helicopter where patients are loaded during Monday’s open house at Burlington Municipal Airport. (Photo by Jason Arndt)

Medical helicopter gets warm reception at Burlington base

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

Flight for Life emergency helicopter service officially landed in the City of Burlington earlier this month.

But on Monday, in front of hundreds of community members, officials from Flight for Life and the City Burlington celebrated the new service with an open house at the Burlington Municipal Airport.

Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty called the occasion monumental, considering Flight for Life selected the community, which its members overwhelmingly supported.

“Welcome to Burlington, Flight for Life,” she said amid a loud applause.

“I know that the Burlington community has the highest respect for your service and making a difference. These past few months, the Burlington community rose up and said, ‘We want Flight for Life here.’”

Hefty said she and others felt fortunate to have Flight for Life in the community because it would offer better services to the area.

“I sincerely appreciate you choosing Burlington, not only for us, but the three counties that will benefit from fast response,” she said. “You can tell by the crowd that everybody is excited.”

Flight for Life, a nonprofit organization launched in 1984, has a headquarters at Waukesha County Airport and offers multiple emergency services with trained paramedics providing around-the-clock helicopter transportation to regional hospitals such as Froedtert and Children’s Wisconsin hospitals in Wauwatosa.

Additionally, organization provides ground service to communities, if weather does not permit air travel.

Leif Erickson, executive director for Flight for Life, said on Monday his agency started looking for a second base in 2017 because of rising call volumes.

While Flight for Life continues to hold a base in Waukesha, known as Trauma 1, Erickson said having the service at Burlington Municipal Airport allows it to better serve residents in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties.

“Back in 2017, we looked at our volumes and our services to the community and realized that we can better serve the communities in Southeast Wisconsin,” he said. “It took us a few years, but here we are.”

The expansion, city officials previously said, would decrease response times to critical injuries such as automobile crashes in three counties.

To read the entire story and view additional photos see the Nov. 18 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.