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Site picked for air ambulance base

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 5:04 pm

The Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter picks off after visiting the Louisiana Rotary Club Thursday. Photo by Adam Thorp.

By Adam Thorp

A medical air evacuation team relocating to Louisiana has found a permanent site for its new Pike County base just outside of town.

Air Evac Lifeteam helicopters have covered Pike County for decades from multiple locations in the region. The organization announced in early March that it would relocate their base from Carrollton, Ill., to Pike County. The team’s helicopter touched down the day of the announcement at Pike County Memorial Hospital, where it has been located ever since.

Located during the day, that is — without full facilities, the team and their helicopter, with the PCMH logo markings on its undercarriage, had to commute from Illinois each morning and back each evening.

With this announcement, Lifeteam leadership has found a permanent location for its new base. The base will be located on a patch of land on Hwy UU just off Route 54 near the Allparts plant.

A 24-7 presence in Pike County would allow for Air Evac to extend the faster response times Pike County has already been enjoying during the day past sundown.

“Once we get into our new facility everything will be streamlined,” Air Evac Program Director Aaron Bradshaw said.

The facility is currently under construction. Representatives of Lifeteam cited two advantages for a site located outside of town.

Operating around Louisiana, the team has had to come to grips with the difficulty posed by the heavy mists that frequently rise off the Mississippi River in the morning. By shifting inland, they hope to avoid the problem.

“For us to have picked a location that sat very close to the river wouldn’t have been a good decision,” Bradshaw said.

A location in a less densely-populated part of the Louisiana area should also alleviate an inevitable side-effect of a busy heli-pad—noise.

“It’s just how it worked out from a business standpoint,” Shelly Schneider, Air Evac public relations manager, said. “The location we’re going to be using is, we hope, going to be the best of all possible choices because the noise won’t be so bad.”

Air Evac hopes to complete the base by July, Bradshaw said.

The facility will include crew quarters—a modular unit brought over from the Carrolton base—a helipad and a hanger for the helicopter.

PCMH leadership welcomed the relocation of the helicopter as a new medical resource for the community. Air Evac also provides some training to hospital employees at cost.