Chicago’s First Hospital-Based Air Ambulance
Who We Fly and How We Operate
For flights directly to the scene of an emergency — whether to a highway, industrial facility, football field, or public park — requests typically come from 911 communications centers or emergency medical service providers (e.g. police, fire fighters, or paramedics). For interfacility transports, ER/ICU physicians frequently request flights via the UCAN communications center.
The UCAN Helicopter
The twin-engine EC-145 has a cruising speed of up to 140 miles per hour and a range of approximately 200 nautical miles. This speed and range allows UCAN to serve a far outlying community. The 145 can seat up to four medical crew members in addition to the pilot. The cabin can accommodate such equipment as an intra-aortic balloon pump (IAPB), incubator for premature babies, or extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to support patients with severe cardiac and respiratory decompensation.
The helicopter has multiple safety features, including a digital autopilot for stability, night-vision goggles, satellite tracking, collision avoidance systems for air traffic and terrain, weather radar, and wire strike cutters.
The UCAN helicopter is owned and operated by Air Methods Corporation. UCAN works in conjunction with MedEx Ambulance Service to maintain a dedicated ground transport ambulance for UCAN that can act as backup in case of weather conditions that prohibit flying or for short distance transports.