"Having a helicopter on site in Lafayette," said Jones, "would be an extremely good thing." He spoke to the commissioners about Air Evac's plans in order to gain their pre approval for extending the existing helicopter landing site, if it becomes necessary. Trousdale and Smith Counties, and Allen County in Kentucky also were under consideration for the permanent site of the helicopter. Macon County was selected.
In a press release of December 22, 2003, confirmation of the Air Evac Lifeteam base opening in Lafayette was confirmed. It read:
Lafayette, Tennessee, will be the site of a new Air Evac Lifeteam air ambulance base scheduled to open in the next couple of months.
The base, which will be located adjacent to the Macon County EMS office on Weldon Drive, will be home to the Air Evac Lifeteam crew and aircraft that had been located in Nashville.
Air Evac Lifeteam Vice President of Operations Seth Myers said the company is relocating the base to better serve its patients in rural Tennessee.
"Air Evac Lifeteam's business model is based on the premise that air ambulances should be placed in the areas of greatest need- in rural communities where response times may be long and critical, life-saving care may be hours away," Myers explained. "It just makes sense for us to move the aircraft to a rural area where we can better serve the needs of our patients."
The base will serve hospitals and residents within a 70-mile radius of Lafayette, including north-central Tennessee and south-central Kentucky.
Air Evac Lifeteam Regional Paramedic Manager Jason Ingram said the communities in this region have been very supportive of Air Evac's decision to locate its base there.
"We've been welcomed with open arms and we're excited about getting started and becoming a part of t hese communities," he said. "I especially want to express my appreciation to Steve Jones, director of Macon County EMS, and his crew for working with us to set up the base."
Jones said he and his crew are excited about having Air Evac in the community.
"I believe in Air Evac's philosophy of placing helicopters in rural areas to speed response times for our patients," Jones said. "Having the ability to get a patient with a life threatening medial condition to an acute care facility in Nashville within 30 minutes will certainly increase that patient's chances of survival.
"The service will not only serve the residents of Macon County, but the entire region. We are very fortunate to have Air Evac here as an integral member of our healthcare team," he added.
The base is one of 36 air ambulance bases in the Air Evac Lifeteam system. Bases are located in 10 states throughout the Midwest and South.
Air Evac Lifeteam crews include a pilot, registered nurse and paramedic. Air Evac Lifeteam helicopters can fly directly to the patient, or make hospital-to-hospital transfers, Ingram said.
"Each Air Evac helicopter is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and all our crew members have advanced training in pre-hospital care, allowing us to begin emergency care for the patient right at the scene," Ingram said.
Air Evac Lifeteam is the only air ambulance company in Tennessee or Kentucky that offers a membership program. Although you do not have to be a member to use the service, members can save thousands of dollars if they need to use the service.
"If a member uses the service for a life- or limb-threatening emergency, their membership is considered prepayment and they will not be required to pay any portion of the bill," explained Regional Membership Manager Mark Perry. "If the member has insurance, Air Evac will bill the insurance company, but the member will n ot have to pay co-payments or deductibles.
"Membership can give you peace of mind knowing that if you ever need the service, your family will not be burdened with a bill that could run between $6000 and $8000" he said.
"Membership is also a good way to make sure you have close access to a medical helicopter," Perry added. "The membership program allows Air Evac to place bases in rural communities that otherwise might not be able to support an air ambulance service."
Memberships are valid throughout Air Evac's 36 service areas. Annual memberships are $40 per person, $45 for a couple or $50 for a household. Lifetime memberships are $500.
For more information about Air Evac Lifeteam services and membership benefits, call 1-800-793-0010 or visit www.lifeteam.net.