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Published June 26, 2012, 07:17 PM

Sanford Health to go live with new LifeFlight helicopter this weekend

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - You will hear and see a new, sleek, state of the art helicopter flying over the metro area and around the valley in a few days.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

You will hear and see a new, sleek, state of the art helicopter flying over the metro area and around the valley in a few days. Sanford Health will "go live" with its new Fargo LifeFlight this weekend.

A total of three helicopters at a cost of 7-million dollars each.

Sanford Pilot Tim Vreeman has another helicopter to mark off his bucket list. It is called an EC 145; a bird that can fly 160 miles an hour.

Tim Vreeman – Sanford Pilot: “The big thing is it is fully automated, full auto pilot more into pushing buttons than moving controls the old one was hands on.”

Sanford just bought three of these. 20-thousand patients after the first helicopter flew in 1986, there is a new kid on the block.

Tim Vreeman – Sanford Pilot: “Instead of grabbing a hold of the controls we are guiding the aircraft than flying it.”

The Sanford Helicopters will serve Fargo, Bemidji and Sioux Falls. A 4th helicopter serves as a backup. Flight Nurses and Pilots have been training since May. The benefits for patient care, they say, are many. For one, being able to load a patient from the back of the helicopter, not the side.

Tim Vreeman – Sanford Pilot: “Rolls in like an ambulance.”

Jennifer Berntson – Sanford Flight Nurse: “It is exciting new equipment our job does not change, what we do is what we do., the method does change, learning the new bells and whistles, it is exciting like a new car.”

And something as simple as a moveable chair on a track so nurses can get to the front or back of a patient.

Jenny Amundson – Sanford Flight Nurse: “We are all going to have better access to the patient.”

This helicopter is a flying intensive care. Premie babies, trauma cases, critically ill patients will all get care on board the new bird. And this new helicopter, so automated, will do better in poor weather conditions compared to the old helicopter.

Between now and Saturday, last minute checks. Then to the sky as the rookie

Fargo will also be home to “two” Fixed Wing Aircraft that can travel anywhere in North America.

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