Construction of the new LifeFlight Eagle hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport is nearing completion and an open house will be this Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Construction of the new LifeFlight Eagle hangar at Chillicothe Municipal Airport is nearing completion and an open house will be this Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The open house will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a free lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, children’s activities, and more. “This will be a fun opportunity for the community to get to know us better and for us to say ‘thank you’ for the warm welcome we have received from the Chillicothe community,” said Matt Daugherty, director of business development for LifeFlight Eagle. The open house will be a come-and-go event, with remarks by city officials and LifeFlight Eagle representatives at 11:30 a.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also during the open house, members of the public will be able to sit in the helicopter, see emergency apparatus, meet the LifeFlight Eagle team and learn more about the organization as well as try on flight suits and visit a photo booth. LifeFlight Eagle broke ground for the Chillicothe base in December and plans to start operating out of the new base within the next two weeks. The overall project is estimated to cost around $1.3 million. LifeFlight Eagle will pay $500,000 through a long-term lease agreement with the city of Chillicothe, according to City Auditor Theresa Kelly. The organization signed a 15-year lease with the city for the facility and has options for multiple five-year extensions. The facility won’t be completed in time for the open house; however, community members will be able to see how the station will look. “We want to invite people to come out and have fun,” Daugherty said. “It will be an opportunity for us to tell our story and for people to get an inside glance of who we are and what we do.” Crews on site Wednesday were working to get the framework of the door balanced so that the steel siding skin can be put in place. Once door is completed and the facility is enclosed, the floor can be completed. It is anticipated that LifeFlight Eagle will begin operating from the Chillicothe base by the end of next week or the following week. Burman Construction, of Ozark, Mo., is the general contractor on the project. The LifeFlight Eagle station will be operational year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. LifeFlight Eagle has had a base in Trenton since 2005, but began looking for alternate base locations after a 2014 flood forced them out of their base for nearly three months. Jeff Willhite, LifeFlight Eagle’s vice president of program operations, said during the groundbreaking ceremony that LifeFlight expects to be able to respond to more requests for emergency transport in the region because they would not suffer the same localized fog issues in Chillicothe that they did in Trenton, and that it would provide the needed weather reporting information to quickly determine suitability for flight. Daugherty said the new base location will enhance the program’s response times to many communities in the region, including Carroll, Linn, Caldwell, Clinton and Chariton counties, among others. The base will include a hangar for LifeFlight Eagle’s specially-equipped helicopter, as well as crew quarters, where a pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The facility has five bedrooms, a kitchen and living area as well as work areas for the flight nurse, flight paramedic and pilot. Additionally, there will be a fitness area in the loft which is located above the living quarters with exercise equipment. The building component is modeled after LifeFlight Eagle hangars in Odessa and Clinton. Unique to Chillicothe’s hangar is the incorporation of a supply room that will double as a hardened storm shelter. LifeFlight Eagle is a 501(c3) non-profit organization that provides life-saving helicopter transport for critically ill and injured patients in Kansas and Missouri communities surrounding Kansas City. In 2016, it celebrated its 20th anniversary and the more than 26,000 patients it has flown since its formation in 1996. In addition, the helicopter that will be based in Chillicothe, the LifeFlight Eagle system has helicopters based in Odessa, Clinton and Harrisonville, Mo., as well as an additional helicopter dedicated to the Children’s Mercy Critical Care Transport Team in Kansas City, which is specially designed and staffed to serve neonatal and pediatric patients.