Flight For Life adds new aircraft to fleet

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Flight For Life is welcoming two new EC145 C2E model aircrafts into its fleet to help crews provide emergency medical care across southeastern Wisconsin and the Midwest.

"We've looked forward to this for the last year," said Leif Erickson, executive director at Flight For Life. "We've got two aircraft ordered. The first one will be here Tuesday, Feb. 1. The second one will be here sometime in March."

Flight For Life gave CBS 58 a first-hand look at the new aircraft at the Waukesha County Airport. It will replace the existing BK117 model that is currently serving as the primary aircraft for the Flight For Life base at the Burlington Municipal Airport. Once the second aircraft arrives in March, it will replace the existing primary aircraft at the Waukesha base.

"We're thrilled to be able to have an opportunity to be able to fly an aircraft of this caliber," explained Gene McDaniel, a pilot at Flight For Life. "We'd rather not fly, but it's nice that we can fly because that means if we're flying we're helping somebody else."

According to McDaniel, the aircraft costs around $8 million and has safety capabilities including terrain avoidance, obstacle avoidance and tools to help pilots avoid other aircraft. The new system allows for the Flight For Life communication center to monitor aircraft systems, including fuel level, fluid levels and temperatures in real time.

"It allows us to be a pilot and have others watching over us and help us to succeed," McDaniel said. "When it is time for us to fly, we're very happy that we can go out there and assist people. Get them to the needs and the facilities they need as quickly and as safely as possible so they can get the proper care that they need."

Ann Mirsberger has been a flight nurse for 13 years. She says this is the first time she'll be working on a new aircraft.

"To have this caliber of ability to care for patients and the equipment and how it is equipped, providing our pilots better modes of transportation for us is amazing," Mirsberger said. "I tell a lot of people, I go to work like everybody else, it's just my job is in an office equipped like this. How this is equipped is like an ICU, so we're caring for patients in the ICU setting in the air and that's what makes it unique."

Both Mirsberger and McDaniel are happy to help those who need it most in new equipment that will hopefully help them be at their best.

Flight For Life responds to around 700 calls a year. The new aircraft has a new paint scheme, changed for the first time in 14 years.

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