MINOCQUA – Asked to respond to the news that Ascension-Wisconsin will no longer base its Spirit 2 medical helicopter at Howard Young Medical Center, Woodruff, by year’s end, Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) issued the following statement: “Marshfield Clinic Health System will provide emergency air transport in Minocqua for patients requiring critical care through its Life Link III helicopters.
“Life Link III has helicopters in Marshfield and Rice Lake with 24-hour, onsite medical staff, giving the System the capability to meet the air transport needs of our critically ill patients throughout the regions we serve. Life Link III also has a one-call system, meaning they can dispatch the closest and most appropriate air transport service to the area.”
Life Link III operates eight helicopter bases; the above two in Wisconsin and six in Minnesota. The nearest one is based on the campus of the Marshfield Clinic Medical Center in Marshfield. From Life Link III’s website, the company further notes: “By using its ‘One Call’ system, Life Link III will continue to work collaboratively with other air medical transport services to dispatch the most appropriate helicopter, whether it is Life Link III’s or another service.”
It’s not known yet if MCHS will again pursue a conditional use permit to build a helipad at its new hospital in Minocqua. Oneida County had turned down a similar request when it granted a CUP to build the hospital. MCHS has the option of using the Lakeland Airport in Arbor Vitae to transport patients by air. Or it could possibly pursue an agreement with Ascension-Wisconsin to use the Howard Young helipad.
Ascension-Wisconsin has also announced it will soon end its operational agreement to have a fixed wing medical airplane (Spirit 3) based at the Lakeland Airport. Spirit 1 is based at Central Wisconsin Airport and will provide Air Medical Transport Services to the region.
From there, patients would be transported to Ascension’s St. Claire Hospital in Weston. For comparison purposes, from the Lakeland Airport it is 69 air miles to the Wisconsin Central Airport compared to 89 air miles to the Marshfield Municipal Airport (MMA), according to a spokesperson at the Lakeland Airport.
The Marshfield Medical facility is nine miles north of the MMA. A helicopter’s normal cruising speed ranges between 100 and 110 miles per hour, the spokesman said.