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History of the Program

History of the PennSTAR Program

In 1986, the University of Pennsylvania Health System recognized the need for a safe and rapid means of transporting medical patients to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Led by C. William Schwab, MD, a management team within the Trauma & Surgical Critical Care division came together to address this need. The PennSTAR flight program was formed and began patient flights in the summer of 1988.

In 2008, the PennSTAR flight program celebrated its 20 year anniversary.

In 1996, a second helicopter was added to PennSTAR 1, which serves Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties. PennSTAR 2 is based in West Chester and provides additional coverage for Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. PennSTAR 3 began operations in 1999, serving the Lehigh Valley.

PennSTAR 4 was added in 2005 and serves Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery and Schuylkill counties – from Reading Regional Airport. Based in Carbon County, PennSTAR 5 began operations in 2006. PennSTAR 6 was also added in 2006 and operates out of Wings Airport in Montgomery County.

Penn Trauma Network

The Penn Trauma Network was developed in 1994 and is currently comprised of:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia (Level I Center)
  • St. Luke’s Hospital – Bethlehem (Level I Center)
  • Reading Hospital and Medical Center – West Reading (Level II Center)

PennSTAR Mission
Dedicated to the Community; Committed to Care

“Our mission is to provide the highest level of care and rapid transport of patients in the safest manner possible. Our goal is a reduction of mortality and morbidity through system-wide coordinated care. We strive to educate first responders, sending and receiving facilities and all agencies requesting transport services.”


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