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A look at Milwaukee's Flight for Life, an air ambulance that saves lives

Courtesy of Flight for Life
Flight for Life continues to serve Southeast Wisconsin.

People can be critically injured in a split second—whether it’s a car accident, a gunshot wound, or any other significant trauma. The job of Flight for Life is to get you somewhere that can save you. And fast.

It’s a medical transport unit that takes patients by helicopter to hospital emergency rooms, including Froedtert, Milwaukee’s level one trauma care center.

Flight for Life is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so there’s a lot of preparation and coordination involved. Scott Rinzel, its market development manager, offers an inside look at how Flight for Life keeps the community safe.

"We are southeast Wisconsin. So, down to the the Illinois border; up to [the] Sheboygan area; out West," explains Rinzel. The majority of the accidents that they respond to are outside of the city. Whenever there is an accident deeper in the city where accessible landing space is limited for the aircraft, patients are usually taken to hospitals via ground ambulance.

Courtesy of Flight for Life
Scott Rinzel, its market development manager at Flight for Life.

A standard flight crew consists of a pilot, a flight paramedic and a flight nurse. Each base in Hartford and Burlington assigns two mechanics per aircraft to ensure that each craft is constantly in proper condition.

Rinzel is very glad to hear when Flight for Life is able to have an impact and help people. "That's exactly why I think the majority of the people at this organization — that's kind of their why, if you will," he says. But he adds that the organization walks a fine line when it comes to reaching out to or getting in touch with the people they've served.

"We understand that that we're involved in some very traumatic scenarios and and we're involved in very dark times in these [flights]." Rinzel says. "So, if patients do reach out and express an interest to meet their crew who was involved in their call or come see the aircraft or just come tour the base, we absolutely try and accommodate that."


Maayan is a WUWM news reporter.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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