Local medical helicopter base discontinued in eastern Alabama


PELL CITY, Ala. (WIAT) — First Responders in Alabama are worried about the critical care of their patients. 

This comes after the company, Air Methods, announced they will stop servicing their base in Rainbow City. 

For fire departments in the eastern part of Alabama, they are concerned about how this will affect their calls.  

“In an event of a catastrophic injury, our primary goal is to get the patient from the scene of an accident to the hospital in the golden hour, 60 minutes,” Captain Joshua Vincent with Lincoln Fire Department said. 

Now fire officials are worried that the goal isn’t going to be met because their primary helicopter is no longer running.  

Pell City Fire department officials said they already had an issue for Wednesday morning.   

“We needed a helicopter this morning and it was going to take them close to an hour to get to us. Sylacauga would be our next closest and they were already on a flight so they couldn’t come so we were going to have to wait on the one in Auburn,” Blake Harbison, a firefighter, and paramedic for Pell City Fire Department said. 

Air Method released a statement saying, “Air Methods, the leading air medical services provider, today (Wednesday) announced it will no longer maintain its Alabama Life Saver 2 base in Rainbow City, Alabama. The move comes after a thorough review and analysis of the area.”

The company continued in their statement saying, “During the transition period, Air Methods is working with all employees on opportunities for other positions within Air Methods or their next career steps. In addition, Air Methods will ensure that the service area will be covered by other air medical aircraft in the area, including the local Life Saver 3 in Cusseta, Alabama and Life Saver 4 in Sylacauga, Alabama. The dispatch center will not experience any interruption in service. The same dispatch number 800-292-8133 will continue to be used for emergency air medical services request and the dispatch center will coordinate the request.”

Local firefighters say that doesn’t help their problem.  

“The chances of that one helicopter being on call is greatly increased and the fear is not having a helicopter available when truly needed,” said Captain Vincent.  

“If we need that service and we’re having to wait, there’s no point in having that service or there’s no point in waiting for that service and just do the best we can and that could extend their treatment time,” said Harbison.  

Vincent said they are trying to make arrangements to get another provider. 

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