Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New air ambulance means quicker response time

From left, Atmore Fire Department Lt. Wayne Kelley, Capt. Daniel Love and firefighters Jake Lambert and Jesse Boone examine the new Medstar air ambulance.

Emergency responders in Atmore and the surrounding area have a new tool that will help lessen the time it takes to provide preliminary treatment to a seriously injured person and to get that person to a medical facility.

Medstar EMS recently unveiled its sleek Medstar Air Care 1, a Bell 407 GXP air ambulance that can reach speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and significantly cut response times for calls in the area.

“It will be a lot closer to us,” noted Atmore Fire Chief Ron Peebles of the new emergency medical transport, which will be stationed at Stapleton Volunteer Fire Department until a permanent base is constructed in Robertsdale. “It has about an eight-minute response time to us and it will give us more options when we have a bad wreck or other incident where we need a medical helicopter.”

Chad Jones, program manager for Medstar, said the total response time would actually be a little longer than the chief’s estimate, but not much.

“I don’t think it will be that way all the time,” Jones said. “We’ll probably be in the air only eight minutes, but we’ll probably average 10-11 minutes, depending on the wind, from the time the skids come up until it touches down. Once we get to the scene, we have to recon the area and find a place to land, and that will probably take a minute or two.”

He admitted that the sleek chopper, which he called “the sports car of helicopters,” would be a marvel for those watching it speed across the sky and maneuver its way to the site of an emergency.

“It’s a crowd-pleaser, and sometimes you’ve got to please the crowd,” he said. “But we want to be proud of the care we provide.”

Jones added that the $3 million medical helicopter would be the closest air asset to this area and would be equipped to handle most medical emergencies.

The copter’s crew will include the pilot, along with a critical care nurse and a paramedic. He reiterated that it would be able to evacuate injured persons and get them to a hospital in a lot less time than would a ground ambulance.

“We can get a patient to a medical facility in half the time or less than it takes to drive,” he said. “We bring an advanced level of care, and we bring it fast.”


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