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The next generation of Samaritan’s flight program

Last Modified: May 24, 2024

People of Parkview


As Parkview approaches the 35th anniversary of its medical transport flight program, a new aircraft is enhancing services. “We knew that we needed to refresh the fleet due to the age and usability of the airframe,” Chad Owen, director, EMS Communications and Flight Services, Parkview Health, said. “We started about five years ago looking for a replacement model, and we quickly found that the Leonardo AW169 was going to fulfill the needs of our program.”

The process for securing the aircraft was a lengthy one, but one that’s paying off now. “It's exciting for everybody,” Kevin Castetter, RN, BSN, CFRN, CEN, flight nurse, Parkview Samaritan, shared. “We've waited a long time, so to have it here and be able to get into it and get the feel and flow has been good.”

Parkview previously operated two American Eurocopter 365 N-2 Dauphin medical helicopters from bases in Fort Wayne (Samaritan 1) and Rochester, Indiana (Samaritan 2). The Leonardo AW169 replaces Samaritan 2 in Rochester and the current Samaritan 2 will become Samaritan 1, based in Fort Wayne. While no longer in regular service, the current Samaritan 1 will remain available to be used as a backup.


“This aircraft is truly a technologically advanced aircraft,” Clark Wendt, pilot, Parkview Samaritan, said. It offers “all glass panel displays, fully automated autopilot. The safety features are greatly enhanced. This aircraft is capable of being started without the blades turning. And we're also able to stop the blades with the engines running, which is a great safety feature for the type of work we do for unloading and loading patients.”

The benefit of enhanced technology is a win for all involved. “The safety that the technology brings to our pilots’ fingertips, to the medical crew is incredible. The medical interior gives them better capabilities to care for our patients,” Chad said.

Crew members echo this sentiment. “From a clinical perspective, we're there to get them to the trauma center as fast as possible to improve their outcomes,” Kevin shared. “The longer we're on scene, the worse outcomes we're typically going to have, so being able to get in and out a lot quicker and do that more safely will certainly be a big benefit to not only the crew members, but the patients as well.”

Investing in the future

“This accentuates the second generation of our program,” Chad said. “I think our patients have always been used to our quality, our safety and our efficiency. And this aircraft absolutely checks all three of those boxes to allow this program to continue that legacy.”

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