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Critical Care Transport

Critical Care by Air and Ground

Excellence in patient care begins with a clear definition of critical care transport. Our standard of critical care transport includes a critical care nurse on every transport, the integration of clinical specialists, specialty medical direction and the support of two Level I Trauma Centers, IU School of Medicine and the IU Health Academic Health Center. 

We believe full access to the patient is mandatory in critical care transport. We further define and deliver advanced transport medicine with the use of i-STAT®, blood products, intra-aortic balloon pumps, advanced ventilators, tecotherm cooling devices and twin engine helicopters that are instrument flight rules (IFR) capable. IU Health LifeLine is committed to delivering safe and expeditious ICU level care.

With a comprehensive air and ground fleet, IU Health LifeLine is able to reach facilities and accident scenes in Indiana, Eastern Illinois and Western Ohio, with critical care transport. We use AirbusEC145s, one of the most advanced helicopters used for air medical transport in the nation. Ground transports are made in safe and efficient Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICUs). 

Our transport teams across the state keep IU Health LifeLine operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have adult/pediatric and pediatric/neonatal teams on call at all times. The critical care transport teams include highly-skilled pilots, registered nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists and additional specialists depending on the patient’s condition, such as a neonatal nurse practitioner or high-risk obstetrics nurse for specialty transports.

Offering the Highest Credentials in Critical Care Training

IU Health LifeLine team members carry advanced certifications, and have previous experience working in environments such as emergency rooms, intensive care units and busy EMS systems.

Our transport team members also train with a full-scale Human Patient Simulator, in various settings, including a helicopter interior, critical care ground unit, and a hospital room, allowing them to develop and maintain their advanced skills for all patient demographics. All members of the IU Health LifeLine team complete Crew Resource Management (CRM) courses. CRM teaches crew members how to operate safely and efficiently inside a dynamic transport environment. 

Well Equipped Air Medical Helicopters Safely Transport Critically Ill and Injured

The first priority of IU Health LifeLine is safety. Air and ground transport vehicles are equipped with advanced life-saving equipment and technology. We uphold strict standards that meet and exceed state and federal regulations. From powerful twin engines that allow for a wider range of patients, to larger interiors that allow full patient access and additional clinical specialists, our fleet is designed to facilitate the delivery of care.


Providing Highly Trained Transport Teams

Indiana University Health LifeLine brings leading edge care to seriously ill or injured patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Every clinician on our critical care team is highly skilled, and must have a minimum of three years’ prior experience in their clinical field.

Each critical care adult/pediatric transport, air or ground, includes the following:

  • Critical Care Registered Nurse
  • Critical Care Flight Paramedic

Every request is assessed prior to dispatching the crew, and we are able to add clinical specialists depending on the patient need. This includes:

  • High-Risk Obstetrics Registered Nurse (OB RN)
  • Perfusionist
  • Advanced specialists from IU Health Methodist Hospital for unique scene situations

See how IU Health LifeLine answered the needs of a victim of a catastrophic car accident.



The Right Equipment and Technology for Every Need

No matter air or ground, IU Health LifeLine provides unsurpassed critical care capabilities.

  • Blood products carried on every transport
  • Hamilton-T1 ventilators
  • Vscan™ portable ultrasound
  • i-STAT® for portable labs
  • Nitric Oxide (please notify when requesting transport)
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Intra aortic balloon pump
  • Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

In addition, our crew members are skilled in the management of:

  • Arterial lines
  • Central lines
  • Chest tubes
  • ICP/Ventriculostomy drains
  • Rapid Sequence Intubation
  • Ventilators

Pediatric/Neonatal Team

Onboard Expertise of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health

Indiana University Health LifeLine specializes in pediatric and neonatal transports for critically ill or injured children and infants. As part of the state’s largest healthcare system, IU Health LifeLine brings Riley Hospital for Children’s NICU, PICU and emergency department to patients statewide.

Pediatric and Neonatal Transport Teams

IU Health LifeLine utilizes highly trained clinicians to provide a high level of critical care for pediatric and neonatal patients. IU Health LifeLine teams have advanced certifications, knowledge and training that allows them to better assess, manage and improve outcomes for critically ill children.

For pediatric or neonatal critical care transports, the crew includes:

  • Pediatric Critical Care Nurse
  • Critical Care Respiratory Therapist

Depending on the patient need, we are able to add a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner to the transport.

Watch how IU Health LifeLine team cared for a critically ill infant.


Specialized Technology for Pediatric and Neonatal Patients

Indiana University Health LifeLine aircraft and ground units provide critical care and stabilization for critically ill children with cutting edge pediatric/neonatal-specific technology. 

Additional specialized technologies, specific to pediatric/neonatal transports include:

  • Tecotherm Neo Active Cooling–One of only two services in the country currently providing this life-saving intervention for neonatal critical care transports.
  • Nitric Oxide–A leading edge therapy for neonatal and pediatric patients in respiratory failure (please notify when requesting transport).
  • Isolette®–A self contained, state of the art unit for thermo regulation and care of the neonate. 
  • Hamilton-T1 Ventilator– a leading-edge ventilator designed specifically for critical care transport.  This is the same equipment used at Riley Hospital for Children.
  • High Flow Oxygen–this is a tremendous bridge to get pediatric/neonatal patients from referral to receiving without having to invasively intubate a patient.
  • High Frequency Ventilation- the next step in ventilator support for critically ill neonate and pediatric patients.

Modes of Transport

Critical Care in the Air or on the Ground

Indiana University Health LifeLine operates a fleet of well-equipped air and ground units, providing service throughout Indiana, Western Ohio and Eastern Illinois. 


Indiana University Health LifeLine provides critical care transport by air with the Airbus EC145. The EC145 has advanced avionics and features that include:

  • Dual Engines–The EC145’s twin engines provide extra power for larger patients and extra crew, and redundancy for added safety.
  • Larger Cabin Size–The larger EC145 interior allows full body access to patients during transport, and the ability to bring more crew members and equipment onboard.
  • GPS/IFR–When visibility is reduced due to certain weather conditions, IU Health LifeLine can safely fly using the GPS/IFR capabilities of the EC145. IU Health LifeLine has also invested in creating GPS approaches for several key hospitals in the state.
  • HTAWS (Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System) and TAS (Traffic Avoidance System) –These systems detect the aircraft’s surroundings, providing avoidance alerts for potential terrain and obstacle conflicts as well as other aircraft.
  • Satellite Tracking and Communication–This feature allows our team to know exactly where the helicopter is in the transport route - down to the minute of the patient’s arrival. Crews also have the capability to communicate with hospital staff if needed.


IU Health LifeLine operates a ground fleet of roomy ambulances especially equipped for critical care transport. These Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICUs) provide the same crew and equipment used in the air. 

Metro Aviation

Making Access to Expert Critical Care Faster and Easier

IU Health LifeLine aircraft are operated by Metro Aviation, Inc. Metro Aviation provides a team of experienced pilots and skilled maintenance professionals, all of whom have diverse aviation backgrounds including military and civilian service.

Aviation Expertise

Our Metro Aviation pilots must meet or exceed strict FAA regulations and industry standard certifications. In addition, pilots must complete 2,500 flight hours before putting on an IU Health LifeLine flight suit, and are among the best in the industry. 

Safety is Critical at IU Health LifeLine

Our in-house Metro Aviation mechanics are experienced in all aspects of the airframe and power plant of the fleet. They follow a rigorous, ongoing preventative maintenance schedule that ensures our fleet is ready, reliable and safe. 

IU Health LifeLine helicopters are operated by Metro Aviation, Inc.