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Hospital teams with Shands to offer air ambulance

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Bay Medical Sacred Heart, UF Health ShandsCair and Med-Trans Corporation are working together to offer an air ambulance service throughout the Panhandle region to provide trauma services to the community.

The $4.5 million Bell 407 GXP helicopter, outfitted with flotation devices for emergency water landings, will be temporarily stationed at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center on the north campus of Gulf Coast State College just off Highway 2300 near Southport. The air ambulance will work in concert with Bay County EMS and all other EMS systems in the Panhandle.

“We are so pleased to partner with UF Health ShandsCair on this project. This will allow us to speed treatment times for critical patients, especially those in outlying areas who have been in a serious accident or who are suffering from a heart attack,” said Bay Medical Chief Executive Officer Steve Grubbs. “We know that time is so crucial when you are dealing with a trauma. We consider this new service an asset to the community.”

The location for the air ambulance is referred to as ShandsCair 5. This base location will change once a building is completed and an official 911 address is assigned.

The air ambulance is staffed with a pilot and two paramedics, one of whom is also a registered nurse and both of whom are certified in critical care medicine. The aircraft can accommodate one patient at a time. As part of this new affiliation, a fixed-wing aircraft will also be available to Bay County year-round.

The helicopter can effectively serve the outlying areas of the county, quickly transporting patients to area hospitals including Bay Medical Sacred Heart, the area’s only Level II Trauma Center equipped to initiate definitive care for all injured patients, with 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.

“We’re very proud about the expansion of the UF Health ShandsCair program into the Panhandle to help even more patients at times when they need it most. Our new base will be located in an ideal place to serve not only residents throughout Florida but also eventually those of neighboring states as well. We look forward to continuing to provide high-quality emergency care for residents of all ages through a combination of skill and speed,” said Ed Jimenez, chief executive officer of UF Health Shands.

Service in Bay County began on April 15. This affiliation has initially brought 14 new jobs to Bay County.

Bay County Commission Chairman Bill Dozier said this air ambulance is important to the whole region.

“Medical helicopters, such as UF Health ShandsCair, have been in the arsenal of medical resources around the country for more than 30 years,” he said. “Their speed and care has been proven as instrumental for survival in the cases of critically ill and injured patients who are long distances from tertiary medical centers.”

“We are very pleased to have UF Health ShandsCair base an aircraft in Bay County, which will be available 24/7 to not only Bay County’s outer reaches, but the entire region. When time is of the essence for a patient, it is comforting to know we have another tool to take care of our citizens and visitors,” Dozier said. “We’re glad we could help this project take flight.”
The aircraft’s tail number is N915UF. Scene response radius for this aircraft is 75 nautical miles, and it has a 240-nautical mile hospital transfer range. This base is considered a “hybrid” model, where Med-Trans Corporation provides the aircraft, pilots, maintenance and billing services. UF Health ShandsCair provides the medical crews, training and medical direction.

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