Flight Communications

Radio and telephone communications are the framework that binds the components of an EMS system together. The communications system links one emergency health care provider with other members of the emergency health care team 24 hours a day. The heart of any EMS system is the communications control center. If this control center is the cornerstone of the EMS system, then the dispatcher is the key to the control center. At OSF Life Flight, this department is called Flight Com, and it is staffed with medical transfer specialists whose minimal training begins at the EMT-basic level; with many having obtained NAACS flight communicator certification, the industry standard for specialized training for helicopter emergency medical service dispatch. Computers, sophisticated electronics including GPS satellite navigation tracking, telephones, computerized road and navigational maps, computerized radio consoles and a flip chart of standardized dispatch policies and procedures surround them. Two or more transfer specialists staff the control center at all times. They work tirelessly to assure rapid patient access to a reliable and effective EMS system. All dispatch and flight following for OSF Life Flight is done through MedComm; as well MedComm fields aero medical traffic calls for aircraft inbound to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center helipads. Their job is a critical link in the communications between multiple and varied EMS units in the Peoria EMS System.

Coverage Area Map

=Images= | Coverage Area Map


During an average month, Flight Com receives approximately 10,000 telephone calls, and coordinates regional patient transfers with nearly 150 trips by helicopter and 300 by ambulance. They facilitate approximately 550 Advanced Life Support (ALS) mission communications and 80 Basic Life Support (BLS) communications between EMS agencies and six system hospitals. The Peoria EMS System, the largest in Illinois, is composed of a total of 72 EMS agencies. Of this total, seven are ALS squads, four are ILS (Intermediate Level Service), 47 are Basic (BLS), and 14 First Responder.