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St. Luke's Shows Off Brand New Helicopter in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Lifeguard Air Ambulance service in Cedar Rapids has a brand new $4 million helicopter on the landing pad. St. Luke's Hospital has offered air ambulance service for 32 years.

There are more changes for the hospital-based ambulance service.

For the entire history of the service, St. Luke's owned its own helicopter and employed the pilots. In August, the hospital started contracting for aviation services with Med-Trans Corporation.

The Dallas-based company not only provides the aircraft and maintenance, it also hires the pilot.

St. Luke's was the only hospital in Iowa that owned its own helicopter, and its Lifeguard director says getting out of the aviation end of the business should improve reliability.

"We'll have more flights because of the ongoing preventative maintenance, and we have access to the backup helicopter that we never did in years past," St. Luke's Lifeguard director Sandi McIntosh said.

In 2011, maintenance needs grounded St. Luke's 1997 model helicopter for more than 100 days.

While Med-Trans will provide the helicopters and pilots from now on, St. Luke's flight nurses will still provide the medical needs for emergency calls.