MedStat to Launch Aeromedical Program
December 28, 2009
Winona, MS, December 28, 2009 – MedStat EMS announces the launch of a new program designed to improve access to care for victims of traumatic injuries and critical illnesses in central and north central Mississippi. Company officials disclosed today their plans to base a medical helicopter in Winona, MS.
MedStat EMS, with its corporate headquarters located in Winona, MS, presently serves as the primary 911 ambulance provider for 10 Counties in Central and North Mississippi. MedStat has entered into a contractual arrangement with Metro Aviation of Shreveport, Louisiana to provide the aircraft, pilots and mechanics and to maintain FAA compliance standards for the new program, to be known as MedStat AIR. Metro has over 26 years experience providing medical helicopter services and currently operates 71 aircraft through similar arrangements with hospitals and ambulance services in 16 states. MedStat will staff the helicopter with a critical care nurse and paramedic who will utilize advanced medical equipment and procedures beyond what is typically provided on paramedic level ambulances. The service will be based at the Winona-Montgomery County airport.
Company officials state a wide variety of patient types will benefit from the addition of this program. Trauma victims, patients suffering heart attacks, strokes, critical medical problems will benefit from the service. Rapid and direct transportation to a level one trauma center, heart catheterization lab, stroke center or a facility that provides advanced medical care is proven to provide substantially better outcomes for patients. With the helicopter based at a central location and by integrating the activation of the helicopter with the our ground ambulance response and the initial 911 request for emergency medical services, our patients will have rapid access to the major medical centers in Jackson, Memphis, Tupelo and Greenville substantially faster than if transported by ground ambulance or by having to wait for an aircraft from out of the area to arrive and then make the transport to a major medical center.
MedStat EMS CEO Barry Eskridge emphasized that this service would not have been possible without recent revisions to the statewide trauma system. “The Mississippi Legislature has led the nation in finding innovative ways to fund trauma care with the creation of the statewide trauma system.
Eskridge also credited the Mississippi Board of Health for revising the formula on how Trauma Care Trust Funds were distributed. “In an effort to improve the statewide trauma system, the Mississippi Board of Health revised the funding formula to include ambulance services in the disbursement of Trauma Care Trust Funds.” Previous trauma funding was only available to hospitals and physicians. “Because of the decision to provide a small portion of the Trauma Care Trust Fund to ambulance services, MedStat is now able to expand our services into this arena which will have a direct and immediate impact on the lives of the citizens in our service area”.
The agreement between Metro Aviation and MedStat calls for Metro to provide a new Eurocopter AS350-B2 Helicopter for the exclusive use of MedStat’s aeromedical program. To insure continuity of service, Metro will also provide a backup aircraft when the primary helicopter is undergoing routine maintenance. The helicopter was built at the American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, MS and is being configured for service at Metro Aviation’s completions facility in Shreveport, LA. Widely used in aeromedical transport programs across the country, the Eurocopter AS350-B2 is well known for its mechanical reliability, performance and safety record. The helicopter has a range of over 300 miles and has a cruising speed of 133 knots (153 mph).
MedStat AIR will be equipped with many state-of-the-art features to ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers. In addition to advanced avionics, the aircraft will come with terrain avoidance technology, air traffic avoidance technology and night vision goggles for the pilot and medical crew members. The National Transportation Safety Board has advocated for the use of this equipment in helicopter emergency medical service operations for a number of years, but Federal Aviation Administration has not yet required it.
“The primary issues that drove our choice of Metro Aviation as our aircraft vendor was their safety record and their considerable experience with aeromedical programs,” said MedStat CEO, Barry Eskridge. “Throughout the selection process, Metro’s emphasis on safety, quality and customer service has been at the forefront,” he continued. MedStat AIR will be available to serve all locations where MedStat has ground ambulance operations as well as any other locations within 75 miles of the airbase, when the local ambulance service or hospital requests the service. MedStat EMS currently operates in Holmes, Attala, Montgomery, Leflore, Carroll, Panola, Tate, Marshall, Benton and Monroe Counties.
Barry Eskridge, Chief Executive Officer