DHART adds a new chopper to its fleet - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

DHART adds a new chopper to its fleet

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Kyle Madigan Kyle Madigan

"This is our brand-new, EC-135 helicopter," Kyle Madigan said.

Dartmouth Hitchcock's Advance Response Team has only had this chopper for about a week. It was a $6 million Christmas present of sorts in 2015 and Program Director Kyle Madigan has been waiting for it to arrive ever since.

"This is the top of the line EMS helicopter," Madigan said.

Top of the line with new safety features, upgraded instruments and another 180 pounds of lift. Madigan says that's a big gain.

"We'll be able to have more gas on board the helicopter to fly longer distances. We'll be able to fly longer times, especially those response times from say Manchester to northern New Hampshire, northern Vermont, over into Maine," he said.

Once this one takes flight, DHART will have two choppers and a backup, a far cry from 1994 when they started with just one.

"We're now up to two helicopters with two bases," Madigan said.

And those two helicopters are busy, averaging 1,400 total patient transports each year.

"Oftentimes, people picture us landing in the middle of the interstate and picking up that motor vehicle accident. The reality is that 85 percent of our business is picking up patients from a smaller, perhaps rural hospital, critical access hospital and taking them to tertiary care," Madigan explained.

Many of the patients don't end up here, which is why Madigan says improvements will help them better serve this region. This helicopter's range is more than 200 miles without refueling, up from the 150 the old one had.

Madigan says his crew is excited.

"It's just like getting a new car," he said. "It's got that new helicopter smell!"

Right now, the helicopter sits in the hangar in Lebanon, but soon it will be moved to Manchester, where it will start service Monday.

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