Iowa's only comprehensive academic medical center celebrated 35 years of service by AirCare, the state's first hospital-based helicopter ambulance service, during a public open house on September 7 at the AirCare hangar.
The event featured tours of two AirCare helicopters, displays of historic AirCare photos and equipment, commemorative 35-year AirCare pins, appearances by Herky and Perky, and light refreshments.
The event also marked the 10-year anniversary of the University of Iowa Department of Emergency Medicine becoming a formal academic department.
AirCare became the 11th helicopter ambulance service in the nation on April 1, 1979. Since then, more than 30,000 patients have flown with AirCare. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics operates Iowa's busiest helipad, with an average of 2,500 landings and takeoffs each year.
Newborn infants, just minutes after being born, make up AirCare's smallest patients. Since 1979, AirCare has brought more than 3,000 infants to UI Children's Hospital neonatal and pediatric intensive care units.
AirCare began with one aircraft in 1979 and AirCare 2 began service from Waterloo in 1988, which extended the service's flying range to 180 miles from Iowa City. Over the years, a total of nine aircraft have carried the AirCare name.
This year, AirCare received designation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) for quality and safety practices. It is the first and only Iowa-based air ambulance service to receive CAMTS accreditation.