A Day on the Job with Air Evac

JULY 13, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:30 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Air Evac Lifeteam is a company created in 1985 to serve rural communities through air ambulance care. They believe every individual has the right to proper emergency medical care when seconds count most.

"It may take 2 and a half, 3 hours to get there by ground, and by helicopter we obviously can get them there a lot quicker, which can mean the difference in them surviving or not surviving," says Andy Friedlander, an Air Evac Pilot.

The majority of their work is hospital to hospital transfers ordered by physicians, but 33% of their job consists of landing right at the scene of an accident and within those jobs, most of the patients' medical conditions are from recent trauma. The remainder comes from various conditions that require new treatments at different locations.

"We get them there quick and whatever stress may be involved in it, we handle that quite well. It works out good for us and works out good for the patient. We get them there and they get the care that they need," says Friedlander.

But what about the stress for the medical personnel inside the helicopter?

"When we fly, we are usually very involved in our patient care to the point that we aren't concerned with what's going on around us. We're more focused on our patients and what's best for those," says James Brewington, the Base Nurse Supervisor for Air Evac Jonesboro Base.

The local base transports to hospitals all across the mid south from Memphis, to Little Rock, all the way north to St. Louis, and their work clock is always on. The air ambulance helicopter and crews are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can respond to the scene of medical emergencies just about anywhere.))

"The aircraft is usually on a go status 24 hours a day. We can leave the base in the morning and on average we do about 3 flights a day," says Brewington.

Air Evac has 63 bases in 11 states, all the way from the Gulf Coast of Texas, to the plains of Iowa, to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. They consist of individual memberships and say the memberships not only save you time in a critical emergency, it also saves you money, but what's really in it for the members? After all, most of us would like to think we'd never need this service.

"A flight from here to Memphis is anywhere from 5 to 8,000 dollars. If there insurance pays 100 dollars, that's all we except. There membership is considered payment in full," says Chris Mackey, the Membership Coordinator for Air Evac Jonesboro Base.

"It's a peace of mind. The membership costs are very minimal compared to the burden of a large medical bill from an air ambulance," says Mackey.

For the Air Evac Lifeteam members, it's not just a job. It's a life saving business.

"It's a job that you get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that what you train to do can be used in a way to save people's lives. That's probably the greatest reward of any job knowing that what you do saved somebody's life," says Andy Friedlander, an Air Evac Pilot.

If you're interested in becoming a member of Air Evac, there are 2 ways to join. You can call their toll free number at 1-800-793-0010 or visit their website at www.lifeteam.net

A one year membership starts at 50 dollars.