New air ambulance service coming to the area

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Air Methods' newest base will be at the Lebanon-Springfield Airport

By Stephen Lega

Air Methods, the nation's largest air medical transport service, is setting up shop in central Kentucky.

"We are going to be coming to the Lebanon-Springfield Airport in mid-July, and we are looking forward to it," said Leslie McCabe, area business manager for Air Methods.

This will be Air Methods' 12th base in Kentucky, and they want to get to know their new neighbors. They are hosting an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 23 at the airport.

McCabe said everyone is invited to the open house to meet the staff and to see the helicopter that will be housed at the airport.

"A lot of people don't get to see one up close and personal," she said.

She added that Air Methods has nearly 240 bases in 45 states.

Air Methods will serve 11 counties in central Kentucky from its Lebanon-Springfield base. Crews for the air transport service will work 24-hour shifts, and each crew has a flight nurse, a flight paramedic and a pilot. The medical crew members have an average of 13 years of experience, McCabe said. Air Methods' helicopter is capable of carrying two patients at the same time.

Transporting patients quickly and safely is essential during emergency situations, according to Kathy Ferriell, the chief nursing officer for Spring View Hospital.

"You want to get the patient to a place where they can get the treatment needed within an hour of the injury," she said.

By getting a patient to the appropriate care facility within "the golden hour," medical personnel have a much greater change of preventing death or long-term complications, Ferriell said.

Robbie Turner, the Marion County EMS director, said having Air Methods at the Lebanon-Springfield Airport should make response times quicker when severe emergency situations arise.

"It's always good to have a new asset," Turner said.

At the same time, Air Evac, which has bases in Campbellsville and Danville, will continue to respond to situations in Marion County when needed, according to Turner. If the Air Methods' crew is responding to another situation or if Air Evac may be able to respond quicker depending on where the helicopter is needed, Air Evac will be called, Turner said.

Both services are represented on the trauma committee at Spring View Hospital, and they will be part of Spring View's efforts to be designated as a Level III trauma center by the American College of Surgeons, Ferriell said.

McCabe said Air Methods will also provide training opportunities for local emergency medical personnel. She emphasized that when Air Methods opens a regional base, they want to be part of the community.

"Hopefully, they see us as a neighbor and a partner," she said.