The History of LIFE FORCE

An air ambulance was first proposed in the Chattanooga area in 1975. While hospital officials agreed that a helicopter service would be a good idea, it was not until December of 1988, that Erlanger Health System launched the LIFE FORCE program flying a Bell 412 aircraft. The 412 could hold two patients, four flight crew members and a pilot. The program exceeded business plan forecasts by more than fifty percent during the first year of operations.

On July 1, 1994, LIFE FORCE became the first helicopter program in the nation to be equipped with a receiver that is certified to fly Global Positioning System (GPS) approaches. The GPS space-based radio positioning and navigation system provides safety and speed for LIFE FORCE when flying in weather conditions that are less than ideal. GPS can provide sufficient accuracy, integrity and availability to support precision approaches to landing locations.

In 1995, LIFE FORCE added another base at the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport in Sparta, Tennessee. With this additional base, LIFE FORCE became the first air medical program in the state of Tennessee with multiple bases.

After serving as LIFE FORCE 1 for 21 years, the original Bell 412 aircraft was sold was replaced with a EuroCopter (EC) 135.

After successfully managing the air medical program for 21 years, in 2009 Erlanger decided to partner with MedTrans Corporation so they could focus more on patient care, and MedTrans would handle the helicopters, maintenance, mechanics, and pilots.

As the need for air medical transport grew in regions surrounding Erlanger Hospital and transfer volumes picked up, an additional base was added in December 2006. LIFE FORCE 3, based out of the Tom B. David Airport in Calhoun, Georgia flew their first patient on February 12, 2007.

In March 2008, LIFE FORCE began using night vision goggles (NVG). The U.S. Military has been the mainstay platform utilized in the development and refinement of viable night vision product for tactical applications. The civilian markets have recently recognized that NVG’s provide helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operators with increased situational awareness and enhanced safety throughout their programs.


After the addition of LIFE FORCE 3 in North Georgia, a need was recognized for the more rural areas of Northeast Georgia and North Carolina. In October 2010, LIFE FORCE 4 was placed in service in a temporary facility in Blue Ridge, Georgia. In June 2012, they relocated to their permanent base in McCaysville, Georgia.


On September 1, 2015, LIFE FORCE 5 was officially placed in service at the Winchester Municipal Airport in Winchester, Tennessee. They are currently in a temporary hangar but will be in a permanent hangar within 2017.

Starting February 18, 2016, LIFE FORCE 1 permanently relocated to their new hangar at the Cleveland Regional Jetport in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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