OuterLink Corp. has outfitted CareFlight, the medical transport helicopter from the North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo, Miss. with its mobile asset management equipment to enable the medical center to better track and communicate with its Eurocopter AS350B2. The center has also placed the tracking device on its 15 ground ambulances.
The center leases the helicopter from Air Methods, Englewood, Colo. Air Methods provides the pilot and a crew of two medical personnel. It can carry one patient and is equipped with a full medical package that includes oxygen, a ventilator, and an electrocardiogram monitor
The OuterLink system uses satellite communication and is not dependent on radio or cell phone towers, which permits the helicopter to be tracked over a large area. It flies within a 150-mi radius of Tupelo that includes southern Tennessee, northwest Alabama, and north and central Mississippi. A tracking device placed in the helicopter sends a signal to a geostationary satellite, which in turn sends that signal to a terminal in the hospital. The terminal shows the position of the helicopter and tracks it in flight. The system gives the position of the helicopter every 30 sec and turns on when the helicopter is powered up. Installation is $15,000, with an additional $5,000-$10,000 for software. There is a satellite charge of $100 a month.