Guardian Flight Reaching More People Across Michigan, Quicker

Michigan's ambulance in the sky

Northern Michigan received a huge emergency medical resource, just in time for summer.

The Guardian Flight opened up a new air base in Gaylord earlier this month. The medical transport plane airlifts patients from the more rural parts of northern Michigan. This marks the Guardian Flight’s first time expanding down to the Lower Peninsula.

“We can get to Petoskey, we can get to Alpena, we can get to Sault St. Marie,” said Guardian Flight Program Manager Jake Smith. “That’s the opportunity to be close to the smaller hospitals, so we can get patients to the bigger hospitals in the bigger cities.”

Smith says being in Gaylord will help centralize their services in the state.

“The location helps us reach the smaller communities in the Lower Peninsula and the Eastern U.P.” said Smith. “Off-base launch time, we shoot for 25 minutes, Petoskey’s only a 14-minute flight.”

Their response time is much quicker than you think.

“You know, it’s 13, 14-minute flights to get to where we’re going, sometimes 35, 40 minutes and then down to Detroit it’s only a 45 minute flight, so within an hour we can be anywhere,” said Flight Nurse Paramedic Ashley Scharf.

The air base is currently staffed with one pilot, one nurse and one paramedic, but they are actively looking to bring in more medical staff.

“We take care of all patients, from babies all the way up to super-sick adults,” said Flight Paramedic Thomas Sowle. “We provide critical care ICU services in the air, making it possible to still have access to Traverse City and Detroit, all those big hospitals, without having to relocate.”

The air base will operate 24 hours a day, everyday.

“Everyday is a brand-new day, you never know what you’re going to wake up and do,” said Scharf. “We could be taking a small appendicitis that needs to go to a bigger facility, or we could be going further due to a lung transplant.”

Their presence in the area is also needed more than ever, as they say facility transfers are currently up due to specialties.

“There’s not a lot of those specialties in the rural areas that we need, so moving them to the larger facilities in a short amount of time where they don’t have to bump down these bumpy Michigan roads, is definitely nice,” said Scharf.

The Guardian Flight air base operates out of the Gaylord Regional Airport.

To learn more about the program, you can visit their website.