Air Methods, the parent company of LifeStar, opened a new base Thursday at the Heath Green Sky Ranch off Wells Road in Gum Branch. During emergency situations, where every second matters, trauma patients, heart attack, stroke and burn victims now are expected to have quicker access to care increasing their chance of survival.
LifeStar area manager Jason Bober said LifeStar base 1 in Springfield has been servicing the area for 35 years and is the longest running air medical service in the state.
Bober said base 1 allowed them to develop a great working relationship with Liberty Regional Medical Center, Liberty County EMS, Winn Army Hospital and hospitals in the surrounding counties.
“When we looked at areas that we felt could definitely benefit from our services, we usually look at ones that are maybe about an hour from local trauma services or STEMI (commonly known as a widow maker heart attack) or stroke programs,” he said. “We thought that Hinesville would be a great area. With it being a growing area, we figured it would hopefully benefit from our services.”
Bober said they gathered the data and information they needed to get approval for LifeStar 2 Hinesville, its official name.
“And once we got approval from our executive leadership team, we put this base together in almost two months,” Bober said.
LifeStar 2 Hinesville will house one Bell 407 helicopter, four pilots, four critical nurses, four critical care paramedics and a dedicated mechanic. The pilots, nurses and paramedics each work a 12-hour shift.
Bober said the LifeStar helicopter is equipped with life-saving blood and plasma on every trip, a heart monitor, intubation tools, a ventilator and many of the same medications typically administered in an intensive care unit or emergency room.
“We bring the hospital to you,” Bober said.
But the biggest advantages, Bober said, are the highly trained personnel and the level of experience they have in saving lives that is their best tool.
Their pilots come primarily from the military but Bober said more civilians are stepping up to the task. Pilots must have 2,000 hours of flight time. Nurses must have three years of experience in a trauma center or emergency room. Paramedics must come from areas with a high volume of 9-1-1 trauma calls.
Patients needing level one trauma care are typically flown to Memorial Health Medical Center in Savannah. But Bober said, depending on where the patient is, and what they need, they could be flown to the trauma center in Jacksonville or if needed to the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta from the Gum Branch base.
The flight to Memorial Health is roughly 15 minutes.
Bober said hospital personnel, EMS, police, and fire department personnel are the ones trained to activate LifeStar. He encourages local fire departments, law enforcement agencies, EMS and local hospitals to attend their landing zone classes to enhance their training and partnership with LifeStar.