The new base on Coleman Road will serve all communities within a 70-mile radius, and will provide potentially life-saving air transport for critically ill and wounded residents. The new operations center is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Air Evac Lifeteam currently operates more than 130 air medical bases in 15 states, with more than 2,800 employees. Public Relations Manager Shelly Schneider said the company was founded to help provide better access to healthcare for underserved rural communities.
"When we were founded in West Plains, Missouri they were watching their friends and loved ones die of strokes and heart attacks, because the closest aircraft was in Springfield Missouri," Schneider said. "By the time that aircraft got to West Plains and got back, they weren't surviving. By putting [the aircraft] in the rural areas and not having to wait so long, it's a matter of getting to that patient and then getting to definitive health care within the golden hour."
Air Evac Mayfield-Paducah Program Director Allen Jones said area hospitals have been very supportive of the company, and have been working closely with staff members to coordinate their efforts to provide transportation when needed.
"Massac Memorial has been very supportive over in Illinois. Baptist health Paducah and Mercy Lourdes have been very very instrumental in helping us get this base here. We do a lot of outreach education for all three of those hospitals, and work very close with all those staff members and directors and managers. They are very excited to have us in the community." Jones said.
Jones said using air transportation can mean much better outcomes for patients, as it dramatically reduces the time it takes to get them the care they need in an emergency.
"It cuts [the time] in half or a little less. Ground service to get to a level one trauma center takes about an hour and 40 or 50 minutes depending on traffic time of day. we fly it in about 50 to 55 minutes, so we do drastically cut that time down." Jones said.
The facility includes medically trained communications specialists; a full flight crew comprising a pilot, flight nurse, and clinical lead; an FAA-approved operation control center; and maintenance crew.
The company also offers a membership plan that covers the cost of a flight if needed, but this isn't required for service. Schneider explains.
"With the membership, which is $85 per household per year, whatever your insurance company pays, or third party insurance if you're in a wreck and it's not your fault, it's considered payment in full and you will not get a balance bill. That's a small percentage of who we fly. The membership is not necessary, and the majority of people we fly or are not members."
McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer spoke at the event. He said the service provided by Air Evac is important, since local government wouldn't be able to afford the cost of medical air transport.
"Local government cannot afford the capital expenditure that it takes to provide something like a service like this because on a small scale we just can't afford to do that," He said. "A private enterprise comes in and fills that essential emergency medical transportation niche that we cannot provide. It is far far above anything else that we do in providing protection to citizens when they're in that life and death situation."
On the Net:Air Evac Lifeteam Website