Vanderbilt University Medical Center is moving its Lifeflight One helicopter base from the Lebanon Airport to Gallatin, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto confirmed.
The medical transportation operation has been based in Lebanon since 2004.
Hutto said the departure was a pragmatic decision.
“With the interstate, they’ve realized that an emergency here … they can have them (to Vanderbilt) before they can get the chopper in the air and pick them up and then transport them,” Hutto said.
“I think the idea was to get it somewhere more rural without an interstate to best serve the needs.”
In a letter to Hutto regarding the move, EMS Chief Brian Newberry said that Wilson County Emergency Management Agency “rarely has the need to utilize medical air services” and cited that the service was used only 15 times in 2018, as well as only 15 times as of Sept. 22.
“For the majority of our calls, ground transportation is quicker than air medical,” Newberry said, noting that the exceptions are the more rural parts of the county and the “prolonged extrication of motor vehicle accidents.”
Heather Bay is the manager at the Lebanon Airport and has worked with VUMC closely over the years.
“I want to thank Vandy LifeFlight for its impeccable service to Wilson and the neighboring counties,” Bay said. “I am confident we will still hear the blades of our guardian angel flying over our community, just coming from a different airport.”