Valley hospital gets new helicopter landing pad

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POSTED: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 3:22pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 7:28am

The Air Evac helicopter now has a new place to land. That place is the Rio Grande Regional Hospital and staff couldn't be more excited.

"We're celebrating the opening of our landing pad for our helicopter crews. And this is a new service that we have, so basically this service is available to any air flights that are coming in," said Bertha Guerra, Rio Grande Regional Hospital Emergency Department Director.

Rio Grande Regional is not the first hospital to add in a landing pad, but the Air Evac team said having another hospital as an option is great.

"With the wide area that we cover, we cover over 70 miles in our radius, the hospitals do get overwhelmed with ground ambulances as well as air ambulances. So having this convenience of bringing a patient out to the hospital, and kind of keep other hospitals from getting overwhelmed," said Max Lopez, Air Evac Lifeteam McAllen Base Program Director.

Plus, a helicopter can cut anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes off of a ground ambulances response time. 

But the real benefit is actually how close this landing pad is from the emergency room. It only sits about 70 feet away from the emergency room doors.

Even though the ribbon cutting ceremony was today, this landing pad has already been put to use.

"We already had three transfers in already, and it was almost two weeks ago that we received our first patient," said Guerra.

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