TUPELO, Miss. – Area residents’ access to air medical services will be enhanced through a new agreement between North Mississippi Medical Center and Air Methods that will go into effect in 2016.
The agreement will include combining NMMC’s CareFlight medical helicopter service based at Tupelo Regional Airport, Air Methods’ base at Winona/Montgomery County Airport and a new base at Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus. A CareFlight helicopter will be located at each base of operations, with pilots provided by Air Methods and staffed by a critical care nurse and a paramedic with specialized equipment and training to transport critical patients. All three locations will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
NMMC and Air Methods have partnered on the Tupelo-based air medical services for 29 years, and Air Methods began service in Winona two years ago with an Airbus Helicopter AS350 B2. NMMC will receive a new state-of-the art Bell 407 GX, which will be located in Tupelo, and the Airbus Helicopter AS350 B2, which has been in service in Tupelo since 2006, will be relocated to Columbus. Having helicopters located in three northeast Mississippi counties will shorten flight times and enable the flight crews to reach patients in Grenada, Corinth, Starkville, Columbus, West Point and Amory in approximately 20 minutes.
“We’re pleased to join Air Methods in the provision of expanded air medical services to northeast Mississippi,” said Dennis Hebner, administrative director of NMMC’s CareFlight. “Our staff realizes the importance of the golden hour and knows that the hour immediately following a traumatic injury is the best time to increase the chance of survival. The golden hour is also vital in improving outcomes for trauma, heart attack and stroke patients.”
NMMC is designated as a Level II trauma center by the Mississippi State Department of Health. To receive this designation, facilities must offer a full range of trauma capabilities, including an Emergency Department, a full service surgical suite, intensive care unit and diagnostic imaging, as well as make a commitment to consistently meet national guidelines or standards in caring for trauma patients.