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University of Iowa News Release

April 22, 2004

AirCare Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years. Some 20,000 flights. Almost three million miles.

The numbers alone are impressive, but they only begin to demonstrate the impact of AirCare, the emergency medical helicopter service operated by University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

When Iowa's only academic medical center established AirCare in 1979, it was one of only a dozen helicopter transport programs in the United States. Twenty-five years later, AirCare transports patients from 57 hospitals that serve hundreds of communities across the region. The Iowa City-based AirCare service combines with a second AirCare helicopter stationed in Waterloo to transport almost 1,000 patients a year.

AirCare's most important benefit to patients is its speed. People who are severely injured survive more often if they receive care for their injuries during what emergency medicine specialists call the "Golden Hour," the 60-minute period immediately following their accident.

Andrew Nugent, M.D., physician with UI Hospitals and Clinics and an assistant professor in emergency medicine at the UI Carver College of Medicine, said AirCare is often the fastest way to transport critically ill and injured patients to the specialists in the Emergency Treatment Center and the Level I Trauma Center at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

"We have experts in every possible discipline and we can bring those people to bear on every possible problem," Nugent said. "We can bring care to people that they just can't get anywhere else, and that's very exciting."

The teams that care for patients on board AirCare are specially trained in emergency medicine. On an average day, a pilot and two nurses fly to three separate accident scenes. The aircrews work closely with about 100 emergency medical, fire and law programs across the region.

Jeff Lipcamon is an AirCare flight nurse. He said that AirCare is a perfect fit for the state. "I think that because Iowa is such a rural state, it's a very good service for our communities and for the citizens of Iowa," Lipcamon said.

Trauma experts say AirCare is a fast, effective and life-saving service. Equally important, the program has an excellent safety record. In fact, perhaps the most impressive statistic associated with the 25th anniversary of AirCare is the number of accidents in its history that have occurred with a patient on board: zero.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,