MARQUETTE — There was a time when a helicopter flying over Marquette was a rare sight. Now it’s almost a daily occurrence as Duke LifePoint contracts with Valley Med Flight to rush critically ill patients from the outlying areas of the Upper Peninsula to the former Marquette General Hospital.

American Heart Month is only days a way – and now rural Upper Peninsula heart attack victims have a better chance of surviving thanks to a chopper and coordination between those on the front line and the medical teams like the cath lab at U.P. Health System Marquette. Another example of major medical changes in Marquette and the U.P.

“If you have any patient information at all, if you would just forward that to Marquette General for us. That would be much appreciated,” said a paramedic to 911 Dispatch.

This helicopter is launched as soon as a heart attack or trauma victim is reported in a remote area of the U.P. It’s a fast coordinated effort between law enforcement, first responders and hospitals.

“The helicopter pad now has moved to its final location, right over there on College Avenue,” said Ed Banos, CEO of U.P. Health System–Marquette while gesturing. “It’s sitting over there. Now we have a helicopter pad on campus. We know that was great. We average about 18 to 20 flights a month. We are really saving lives.”

The sooner you can get to a higher level of care, there’s a better chance that you are going to have permanent injury. “So the helicopter has been a wonderful addition to the U.P. in getting people who do not live close to Marquette, are able to get to Marquette quickly.”

Time is tissue when it comes to heart muscle; that’s the message from the U.P. Health System–Marquette cath Lab. That means officials had to set up a network that allows for the quickest arrival on the scene and then to Marquette.

In late December, Valley Med Flight chopper 1 was called to a snowmobile accident in Alger County. ABC 10/CW 5 recorded conversations between paramedics on the helicopter and hospital nurses and 911 operators.

“Central status,” asks a 911 Dispatcher to the helicopter paramedics.

“We are coming from Munising with (garbled) with an approximately 30 to 40 year old female patient,” says a paramedic on the helicopter. ”

Within minutes that chopper is Marquette bound – and just as in the case of heart attack victims – the paramedics on the flight keep the E.R. and other departments updated with the patients vital signs and other medical info.

“The patient lost consciousness on the scene for approximately five to seven minutes,” the paramedic relayed to the hospital staff. “Patient is (garble) good and oriented, complaining of left shoulder pain and back and neck pain. Her vitals are stable and (her blood pressure) is at 35 over 61.”

While that chopper is en-route to the scene the proper doctors, staff, and departments are notified that a heart attack victim will be in bound shortly. Officials would still rather you prevent a heart attack and that often includes a change in lifestyle. Plus during heart month make sure you know the signs of a heart attack, so you’ll know its not just indigestion.

UPHS Marquette is hiring more doctors, surgeons and others for its heart center that’s now connected to the Duke University Heart Center.

Arriving ore boats have been a popular pastime in Marquette, but the UPHS–Marquette landing pad has become a popular spot.

“It’s interesting to see because now when the helicopter lands, you see most people walking on the street will pull out their I–Phone and video it,” Banos said with a smile.

However if you watch the chopper arrive be careful, as the rotors plus winter winds make for a freezing experience as witnessed by an ABC 10 reporter.