New Air Ambulance Opens in McAllen

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Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 10:22am

MCALLEN - A new face for air ambulance care is up and running, or should we say flying, here in the valley. Air transportation is an emergency response option that can literally mean the difference between life and death for many patients.

News Center 23 Reporter Erin Murray met the new air ambulance team and brings us their story.

The Air Evac Lifeteam works with local emergency responders, which means they are ready to fly out anywhere in the valley they are needed.

"In a case like that, somebody having a heart attack, a drowning,a stroke or whatever the case may be, or something that is real critical. The key at that point is going to be to get the patient to the hospital in a certain amount of time, that's usually within the hour," said Max Lopez, Air Evac Lifeteam Program Director.

A three man team consisting of a pilot, nurse and flight paramedic will fly to the location, pick up the patient, and then fly to the hospital that can best serve their patient's  interests.

"The thing with this helicopter is that this helicopter is equipped to take one patient at a time. When we have a critical patient on board we want to make sure all of our attention is on that one patient," said Lopez.

That special attention also means taking the patient to the hospital that can provide the best care for their injuries. Which means they aren't always flying back to McAllen, in fact, they can go to any hospital in the Valley.

This Air Ambulance service isn't run or owned by any hospital either. It's actually independently owned and they function and run from membership fees and the billing for services they provide.

"Members from our company help support us through our annual membership fee, and in return if we ever fly them, there is no bill that the patient will receive. We will bill the insurance, but that is all. Whatever the membership fee is, is considered payment in full," said Ken Euler, Air Evac Lifeteam Membership Sales Manager.

And being a member means that even if you use this service out of state, it's a free life-saving ride. Air Evac Lifeteam will now run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from their base at McAllen Medical Center.

For more information of the Air Evac Lifeteam call 956-992-0605 or visit www.lifeteam.net

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