By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - Have you ever stopped and wondered who the dedicated emergency flight personnel are that would be caring for you or a family member during a traumatic injury situation or a sudden life- threatening illness?
Trusting a trained professional to perform to the best of their ability and knowledge in times of medical crisis is the mission of the employees of the Air Evac Lifeteam based at the Logan County Airport, and they feel that a “meet and greet” session allowing you to meet their medical flight crew, ask questions, receive answers and tour the inside of a medical-flight helicopter is just the ticket to put your fears to rest.
Tomorrow, May 5, the Air Evac Lifeteam will land their helicopter in the parking lot of the BB&T Bank on Second Avenue in Williamson at noon, where they plan to spend at least two hours (barring any emergency calls) with those attending the “Rally in the Valley” motorcycle event.
Matt Ellis, Membership Manager for the Lifeteam spoke with the Daily News, and said they felt that with the large crowd expected to attend the rally, this would be a perfect opportunity to become acquainted with more of the Mingo County residents who one day may require their services.
The Logan based operation has been in place since 2009 and was the 85th medical helicopter base opened by Air Evac Lifeteam across the United States. Ellis commented that as of now, the company has in operation a total of 165.
“We have four Air Evac locations in West Virginia,” said Ellis. “Besides Logan, we have helicopters in Summersville, Parkersburg and New Martinsville.”
“I would say somewhere around 95 percent of all emergency medical flights that go out of the Williamson Memorial Hospital and the South Williamson Appalachian Regional Hospital and their surrounding communities are performed by us,” said Ellis. “We can be at either location in about 10 minutes of getting the call.”
The Lifeteam typically transport the patients to one of the Charleston Area Medical Centers, St. Mary’s Medical Center or Cabell Huntington Hospital, which are all Level I and Level II trauma centers. With that being said, Ellis explains that most of these emergency flights are due to traumatic injury that threaten the loss of life, limb or vision, or are due to a sudden serious medical problem such as stroke, heart attack, high-risk pregnancy emergencies, etc.
These are not the only flight services they offer.
“If we are dispatched to a medical facility to transfer a patient who requires care from a specialty hospital such as Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins and others, we can easily do those. We have flown patients all across the United States,” Ellis remarked. “When you transfer directly from a hospital as opposed to an emergency landing zone where you are taking the patient directly from an ambulance, you can spend more time stabilizing them, which allows for planned flights to further away locations.”
Tomorrow, Ellis and several members of the flight crew will be on hand to further explain their services, and will also be sharing a financial savings opportunity with the public that a large majority of Logan County residents have already taken advantage of.
“We offer a unique Membership Program that accommodates not only the person who purchases it, but everyone in their household regardless of any pre-existing medical conditions or age,” said Ellis.
“We know how the sky rocketing costs of medical care can affect families who find themselves in an emergency situation. These are things that none of us are truly ever prepared for. Our membership program offers you a chance to pay a yearly amount that covers your household and guarantees you that whatever the price of your flight (which averages $20,000), the balance after your insurance pays will be written off.
“We offer plans for one, three or five years,” said Ellis. “The more years you agree to, the greater the savings.
“A one year plan for you and your household is only $60.00, a three year plan is $165.00 and the five year plan is only $275.00.
“Everyone thinks they will never have to be flown out for medical care, and we hope that’s true. But we need to remember that no one plans to have a serious accident, suffer a traumatic injury or experience a sudden life threatening illness, but they happen every day.
“No one is exempt.”
Ellis said that the Air Evac Lifeteam offers this special plan to help alleviate the financial burden during these times of crisis, and says that the coverage is in place as soon as the application is completed and payment is received.
The Lifeteam invited everyone to come by the Williamson BB&T Bank parking lot tomorrow from noon until approximately 2 p.m. to meet their medical personnel and receive further information on the services the flight crew provide, familiarize yourself with how they operate and have your questions answered about the membership program.
“We want to know Mingo County residents as well as we do those in Logan, and Saturday will definitely be a step toward accomplishing this goal,” concluded Ellis.
For more information, you may call 304-687-5390, or visit their website at www.lifeteam.net.