Flight for Life breaks ground on bigger, permanent facility in Burlington

NOW: Flight for Life breaks ground on bigger, permanent facility in Burlington

BURLINGTON, Wis (CBS 58) -- You've worried about it before if you or a loved one lives far from a hospital: what happens if there's an emergency and you need help now?

Officials with Flight for Life broke ground on a facility at the Burlington airport on Wednesday, which they say will help them respond faster to rural communities when every second counts.

"As they say, time is muscle, time is your heart, time is your brain," said Flight For Life Executive Director Leif Erickson, "So it is every minute saves precious, precious muscle time for the patients to get to the intervention services they need."

Erickson says a temporary facility at the Burlington airport has housed Flight For Life since they moved into the area in November.

Before then, Erickson said, Flight For Life flew out of Waukesha, adding up to 15 minutes flight time to flights.

He says with 50% of their flights north of I-94 and the other 50% south of the highway, the location of their facility is critical.

"Burlington puts us in an optimal spot for response times and getting patients to the tertiary care," said Erickson.

Now they're building a more permanent facility at the airport to better service Racine, Walworth, and Kenosha counties.

"We'll have a little bit more in our home - we call it our home. It's not something that's just temporary. It'll be something that's more permanent for us," said Flight For Life Chief Flight Nurse Nick Lehouillier.

He says they'll have bigger and better facilities for the 24/7 on-duty staff, and a take-off point farther from other airport traffic.

"To be able to kind of start up the aircraft a little bit quicker," said Lehouillier, "For us, it'll be quicker watch time, and it'll just be nicer for us to have a permanent area where we're not kind of interrupting the flow of traffic at the taxiway too."

Mayor Jeannie Hefty of Burlington says for herself and members of the surrounding community, it feels good to have help close by.

"It's all about patient care, so I'll have it here and that's why the Burlington communities back Flight For Life," said Mayor Hefty.

Contractors with the project say they're hoping Flight For Life can move in in June of 2023.

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