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Duke Life Flight was founded in 1985 as the first hospital-based emergency transport service in North Carolina. In its initial year, Life Flight became the most active first-year flight program in the country.

The decision to launch Life Flight came after Joseph Moylan, MD and Gregory S. Georgiade, MD researched the benefits of transporting trauma patients by air. Over the past 40 years Duke Life Flight has grown from a single helicopter to two helicopters and seven ground ambulances offering critical care transport services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to patients when time and specialized services are crucial to the patient’s outcome.

The ground ambulance component was added in March 1989, and soon achieved another milestone: the first critical care ground transport team. The goal was developing a rolling intensive care unit that could meet all of the patient’s needs.

In 2000 Duke Life Flight received its CAMTS accreditation for its high standards of care in the Air medical transport service and has received it every 3 years since.

In 2012, Duke Life Flight began providing BLS transports for patients discharged from Duke University Hospital, requiring ambulance level care to their residence. This service also supports critical care operations by acting as a back-up ambulance and ferrying crews for organ harvest and retrieval.

In 2015, Duke Life Flight celebrated 30 years of service with dual celebrations at the Smithfield Base and on the roof of Duke University Hospital.

In 2016, Duke Life Flight incorporated critical care paramedics as well as advanced life support paramedics to our staffing complement.  The addition of a dedicated neonatal/pediatric transport team comprised of registered respiratory therapists and neonatal/pediatric registered nurses also occurred.

In 2020, Duke Life Flight relocated LF1 from the roof of Duke University Hospital to the helipad of Maria Parham in Henderson, NC to better serve our northern communities.