Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

October 9, 2013

Helicopter move won’t affect service

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Oct. 9, 2013 — Starting Nov. 1, the familiar sight of the Air Methods medical helicopter will no longer be seen in Grayson.

The helicopter, a new American Eurocopter 130, will then be based at the Ashland Regional Airport in Worthington.

Although no longer parked at the Kentucky Christian University campus, Base Manager Brent McKee told the Journal-Times that the craft’s response time actually will be faster.

“We won't be as visible but we will still be here,” McKee said. “At the airport we can step out the door where we are housed and into the aircraft which will be a lot faster.”

He said the flight crew is currently housed a quarter mile from the helicopter, which means equipment and personnel load into a vehicle before driving to the helicopter.

Protecting the helicopter is also a big factor for the move.

“A lot of people don't realize how easily a helicopter can be damaged,” McKee said. “A bad storm can put the helicopter out of commission for days. At the new location, we can put it inside the hangar at the last minute and not have much down time.”

Current procedure has flight crews preparing for takeoff when dispatch mentions an incident where a helicopter might be needed.

Wait time is about 10 minutes anywhere in the area, according to McKee.

The new location will mean a few extra minutes, which can mean the difference of life and death in some situations.

Air Methods covers Boyd, Carter, Lewis and parts of Elliott and Lawrence counties. The company has other aircraft in Mt. Sterling, Prestonsburg, and in Lawrence and Scioto counties in Ohio.

“We draw a circle from where we are parked and respond out about 30 miles,” McKee explained. “We have a lot of changes going on which we believe will be for the better.”

The blue AE 130 recently replaced the familiar red A Star, another positive change.

“The new ship offers a larger patient care area, and we can take along family member if we have to fly out a child or something,” McKee said. “It's been really exciting to get this big new aircraft and we think the move will work a lot better for us and our patients.”

Air Methods has more than 300 bases of operations that serve 48 states. The company operates eight maintenance centers throughout the nation and a national communications center.

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.