Local hospital becomes base for new helicopter

Local hospital becomes base for new helicopter

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The White River Medical Center is the new base for a Survival Flight helicopter.

It takes, on average, 38 minutes for a helicopter to get to the White River Medical Center in Batesville. EMTs say that doesn't include the amount of time it takes to get the patient into the aircraft and ready to go.

The Bell 407 helicopter is a new addition to the White River Medical Center helipad.

"Having an aircraft like this greatly increases our ability to care for nearly any type of patient," said Shaine Keasler, clinic manager for Survival Flight.

At one time, those patients had to wait for a helicopter to arrive.

"When you are coming from that larger city and you need a helicopter in Batesville, the entire 45 minutes of that flight, the patient is still sitting in Batesville," Keasler said.

What used to take 38 minutes now takes no time at all, and it serves an area much greater than just Batesville.

"We cover all of north central Arkansas, going down as far as Searcy up to the Arkansas state line, and over towards Jonesboro and all the way to Mountain Home," Keasler said.

Because the hospital serves such a large area, Gary Bebow, White River Medical Center CEO, said this partnership with Survival Flight just made sense.

"We are also the main hospital provider for residents of Sharp County, Izard County, and Stone County," Bebow said. "Those areas look to this facility for care."

Keasler said the aircraft is different, partly because of its third seat.

"Mom's in an accident and her child is hurt, what mom wants to leave her child with a helicopter crew," Keasler said. "That helicopter crew is most likely going a long distance away from her."

Keasler said the extra room makes an impact. "Having the ability to take that mom on with us, or that significant other, greatly improves the patient's care and the patient's comfort level," Keasler said.

Keasler and the hospital administration agree the area needed this type of care.

"People in rural communities have access to level one trauma facilities," Keasler said. "They have access to great cardiac facilities, great stroke care."

Time is no longer a concern when it comes to airlifting critical patients. "We are always here 24/7, 365," Keasler said.

The Survival Flight staff is currently residing in a wing of the hospital, but the hospital is renovating a nearby home where the flight staff will be able to stay. That way they are close by and ready to fly.

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