LifeFlight at UnityPoint Health | History

UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Jordan Creek)

180 Jordan Creek Parkway, Suite 120
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

Closed Patients
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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waukee)

950 E. Hickman Road
Waukee, Iowa 50263

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UnityPoint Clinic Adult Respiratory Illness

2103 Ingersoll Ave., Ste. 2
Des Moines, Iowa 50312

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Altoona

2720 8th St. SW
Altoona, Iowa 50009

Closed Patients
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Urgent Care - Ankeny

3625 N. Ankeny Blvd.
Suite E
Ankeny, Iowa 50023

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Urgent Care - Lakeview

6000 University Avenue
Suite 101
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

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Urgent Care - Merle Hay

4020 Merle Hay Road
Suite 100
Des Moines, Iowa 50310

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Urgent Care - Southglen

6520 SE 14th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50320

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Urgent Care - Urbandale

2901 86th Street
Urbandale, Iowa 50322

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Iowa Methodist Medical Center was the first central Iowa hospital to provide an air ambulance service.  When emergency medical care is needed, time is a critical factor in saving lives. The ability to stabilize and transport patients as quickly as possible is crucial, which is why LifeFlight can often be a deciding factor in a life-threatening situation. In addition to providing transport from an emergency scene, LifeFlight also transports between hospitals if a patient is in need of specialized medical or surgical treatment.

A typical LifeFlight transport involves a patient who has experienced a medical or cardiac emergency such as a heart attack, respiratory distress, multi-system failure, congenital abnormalities, etc., or some form of trauma, including car accidents, falls, work-related accidents, criminal incidents, gun-related mishaps and recreational accidents.

LifeFlight brings critical care and aviation capabilities together to serve communities and hospitals throughout the state of Iowa. Physicians, nurses, rescue and law enforcement agencies and industrial health officials may request LifeFlight.

However, LifeFlight is not a replacement for existing ground emergency medical services. The primary purpose of LifeFlight is to assist and augment the capabilities of community hospitals and EMS services by providing prompt emergency response and transport for patients requiring specialized medical facilities.

Together, LifeFlight and the emergency and trauma teams at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Blank Children's Hospital work with local emergency personnel to provide the most efficient emergency medical treatment and ultimately, patient survival.

Specially Trained Professionals

LifeFlight is an integral component to the community's emergency services. As experienced transport clinicians, LifeFlight's medical personnel are trained in critical care, advanced life support, pediatric and neonatal advanced life support and advanced airway management. Highly specialized teams are available from Blank Children's Hospital. Flight paramedics  and flight nurses have successfully completed a nationally recognized flight certification program. These combined skills are essential to evaluate and treat our patient's physical and psychological needs.

LifeFlight Time Line

1979 :: Iowa Methodist Medical Center introduces LifeFlight on July 12. It's one of about 15 hospital-based programs in the United States, and the only air ambulance service in central Iowa.

1980 :: Tragedy strikes. LifeFlight crashes in Webster City, killing nurses Maureen Griffin, Hallie Burns and pilot Nick Roetner.

1987 :: LifeFlight, The Movie premiered in Des Moines. Produced by American Media Inc. and filmed partially at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, this film was loosely based on the IMMC program. The LifeFlight helicopter was used for filming, and pilots and crew members assisted with the technical aspects of the film.

1993 :: LifeFlight celebrated its 15 year anniversary. LifeFlight offices move to a newly constructed critical care tower. The new tower includes a rooftop helipad and megavator to further enhance transportation and treatment of patients.

1996 :: LifeFlight receives the Air Medical Safety Award from American Eurocopters in recognition of 10,000 consecutive accident-free missions.

1999 :: LifeFlight celebrated its 20th anniversary.

2002 :: LifeFlight is pleased to announce the arrival of their new helicopter. The new helicopter is an AS350 B2 aircraft from Rocky Mountain Helicopters in Provo, Utah and replaces the former LifeFlight helicopter of 10 years and brings many additional features and capabilities to this service. Some of the new features include:

  • New radio system with state-wide radio coverage
  • Enhanced GPS navigation system
  • New patient loading system
  • Increased lift capabilities
  • Greater gross weight capability
  • New interior
  • New paint scheme

2004 :: LifeFlight celebrates its 25th anniversary.

2008 :: Selection is made for a new aircraft. The Eurocopter EC 145 is chosen as the new LifeFlight helicopter. Planning and customization of the aircraft begins.

2009 :: LifeFlight celebrates its 30th anniversary. In October, LifeFlight unveils and puts into service its new EC 145 helicopter. The EC 145 is the largest medical helicopter in the state, and is the same model used by other major medical institutions across the country. It's reputation for safe, medical transport was a key factor in the selection.

2010 :: LifeFlight begins their professional and family fly along program allowing healthcare professionals, Fire, Law and Communications Center staff to join the team to experience a day in the life of the flight crew. Family members are able to accompany their loved ones during transport.

2013 :: LifeFlight becomes the first and only program in Iowa to carry blood products on board. LifeFlight completes their first Nitric Oxide adult transport.

2014 :: LifeFlight celebrates 35 years of service.

2019 :: LifeFlight celebrates 40 years of service.