A helicopter was seen flying over the Price area last weekend. Since it was a medical transport helicopter, many may have wondered if there was a medical emergency. In reality it was just Eagle Air Med setting up its operations and familiarizing pilots with the terrain and landing pad at the hospital.
On April 12, Castleview Hospital and Eagle Air Med signed an agreement that stated a helicopter and crew would be based in Price. The two companies reached a deal which granted the medical helicopter use of the helipad at the hospital. Air Med begins operations Tuesday.
Eagle Air Med spokesperson Martin Brenton stated that along with the Eagle Air Med helicopter, a crew including four paramedics, four nurses, two pilots and a mechanic will also reside and be based in the area. They will be on 12-hour shifts with floaters filling in as needed.
Eagle Air Med has been in operation for over 30 years. It currently has bases in Kayenta Ariz., Chinle Ariz., Alamosa Colo, and Gallup N.M. The corporate headquarters are located in South Jordan, Utah. Price is the only base that has a helicopter. The other locations use fixed-winged aircraft. The reason behind a helicopter in Price is the close proximity to the Wasatch front.
“It makes the best sense for this area,” Brenton said.
Price has been using the services of Life Flight from the University of Utah hospitals. When there has been a need for a patient to be transported by helicopter, the time involved with bringing in the chopper from Salt Lake City will now be cut down immensely. Eagle Air Med can have a helicopter ready to transport in less than 30 minutes from the initial call.
All specialty air transport options including Life Flight, U Air Med and others will still fly in as needed to the area. Eagle Air Med will be the only aircraft based in Price. This can cut transport time by at least an hour. Flight pilot Gerry Fordham added that in an medical emergency, every minute matters.
The helicopter will also be available for rescue operations. The company is in the process of providing landing zone kits to the local law enforcement agencies so they can create landing zones on the fly.
The helicopter is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and will be able to fly in a wide range of weather conditions. Pilots will also use night vision technology to fly 24 hours a day. Wind will be a factor for start up and landing if it exceeds 40 knots. The aircraft is rated to an altitude of 23,000 feet. The crew plans to stay below 10,000 feet for most flights.
The cost of medical transport can be expensive. For a family dealing with a life or death choice, most are not thinking about charges during an emergency. The base price of a flight is over $17,000. Then there are added fees for medical services. The helicopter is set up with the same equipment as a trauma room.
While insurance can cover many of the costs of air transport, patients and their families can still be left with a very large bill. With this in mind, Eagle Air Med has yearly plans available to reduce this possibility.
If an Eagle Air med yearly plan were purchased, all co-pays, deductibles and other non-covered costs would be taken care of. The cost for an insured family is $79 annually. For an insured individual it is $59 a year. Uninsured families may buy a plan for $99 a year and individuals can get one for $79. The plan for uninsured individuals covers all expenses related to an air transport by the company.
There is a three-day waiting period for the plan to take effect. For a person with a high risk of needing urgent care, the plan could be an extra layer of security. Sign up by going to https://www.eagleairmed.com and clicking on the progam plus link.
There will be an open house for the community to talk to the crew, see the helicopter and ask questions on June 19.