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'Air medical transport is definitely a life saver’: Air ambulances help decrease rising hospital rates

'Air medical transport is definitely a life saver’: Air ambulances help decrease rising hospital rates
Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 6:03 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The air ambulance companies are assisting hospitals as they struggle with the increase of hospital rates.

With hospitalization rates rising, air ambulance companies are helping out by transferring patients.

The Lifestar 1 helicopter is one of eight in our area that has been transporting patients daily throughout the entire pandemic.

It’s always ready to go and transfer patients to hospitals in a 121-mile radius.

“Air medical transport is definitely a life saver,” said Terry Hazlett, paramedic director for EMS at Hereford Regional Medical Center.

Hazlett says Lifestar and other air ambulance companies have saved lives for the last few weeks.

“We are a big piece of the puzzle of what’s going on right now with COVID and moving these patients around the nation especially here in the state of Texas and surrounding areas,” said the program manager for Lifestar, Jeremy Tracy.

Part of why they have been so crucial is due to hospitals in our area reaching capacity.

Tracy says they have been a quick way to limit that space.

“With this second go round of COVID, we are getting calls 24/7,” said Tracy.

Hazlett says without their service lately, Hereford’s ambulance trucks would be on the road for about 14 to 16 hours at a time transporting patients.

By relying on air travel, Hereford EMS is able to use their two ambulance vehicles locally.

“Due to the COVID status, we’ve had to transport patients a longer way. It really puts the patient at risk and it also takes the truck out of service for our 911 service to to provide 911 services for the community,” said Hazlett.

Tracy says although they are transporting patients within 121-mile radius, they could go farther in an emergency.

“Whether it is helicopter or fixed wing, we can cut that time in half,” said Tracy.

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