Repositioned TraumaOne helicopters could save lives

Choppers to be located in St. Augustine, Yulee, Lake City


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Shands Jacksonville Medical Center is repositioning its three TraumaOne helicopters. So what does that mean for you?

The goal is to get emergency care patients flown to the hospital faster. For those who live far from the trauma center, flying in a helicopter could be the difference between life and death.

The three new helicopters will each be in a different location. One will be stationed in St. Augustine, another in Yulee and the other in Lake City, all to save time in getting the people who live in those areas to Shands.

Paramedics say northeast Florida is lucky to have the new choppers because in a trauma situation every second counts.

"You know you're going to get the best care possible," rookie paramedic Michael Austin said. "Some agencies don't offer and do the types of things that we can do in the aircraft."

The pilots love the new helicopters, too.

"Brand new aircraft with auto pilot night-vision goggles. It's fantastic," said John Barber, a Shands pilot since 1985.

Barber said that previously, Shands had one chopper at the hospital and one in Lake City. But it makes more sense to have them stationed in communities farther away from the hospital because it saves a trip, which saves time and lives.

That's especially the case now that Orange Park Medical Center is no longer a trauma center. St. Augustine residents will need to get to Shands faster than what they were able to by ambulance.

Austin said he's honored to get to be a part of TraumaOne.

"Being able to provide that level of care for those patients and knowing that you make a difference really makes me want to come to work every day," he said.

While there will be no helicopters stationed in Jacksonville, Shands says people living in the River City will still get to the hospital in plenty of time by ambulance.