The new North Central Air Care will provide emergency air transportation to any hospital designated by physicians in emergency departments as well as first responders on the scene with the goal of getting patients to the right level of medical care as quickly as possible.
The search for a new service began last fall after North Central EMS officials received word that Mercy Health would no longer be using the Milan EMS headquarters as a Life Flight base effective October 2016. The Milan air base was established in 2008 along with a Mercy Health Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) base at the North Central EMS in Bellevue. The MICU also left in October.
The Milan and Bellevue bases offered our community quick access to emergency air medical services as well as Mobile ICU services. The Mobile ICU responded to more than 300 calls annually, and more than 400 air flights originated from the Milan base each year. Approximately 50 of those flights were dispatched to vehicular accident scenes. The rest provided services for area hospitals to transport patients to higher levels of specialized care at Cleveland, Toledo and Akron tertiary care hospitals. The average response time was 12 minutes. After the Milan base closure, response times from Mercy Health’s base in Clyde and Metro Health’s base in Elyria ranged from 20 to 30 minutes or more.
To fill these critical gaps in service, our first step was to add our own Mobile Intensive Care Unit to the North Central EMS fleet this spring. This component of our emergency services is crucial in providing transport services to critically ill and injured patients from area medical centers. It also serves as a back-up when helicopters are not able to fly because of weather conditions. At the same time, we began working diligently to identify a new resource for expanded medical air transport coverage to reduce response times for local patients needing that lifesaving service. Our unique proximity to both Cleveland and Toledo hospitals provides the opportunity for the fastest transport to the most appropriate hospital.
Our search led us to American Medical Resource Group, a leading provider of air medical service highly experienced in caring for and transporting patients in rural area hospitals to large tertiary care facilities in metropolitan areas — a great fit for our needs. We look forward to rolling out more information to the community as our go-live gets closer in August.
This initiative serves as another example of how North Central EMS, a non-profit community-based health service, continuously evaluates the changing needs of our communities and develops programs to meet gaps in service or to address identified emergency care needs. We’ve collaborated and coordinated with hospitals, area police, fire, and emergency services organizations over the past 30 years to provide critical services in our communities. We are pleased to introduce this latest service to provide high quality, safe and affordable care to patients in the communities we serve.
Don Ballah is vice president and chief operating officer for North Central EMS. He has been employed at North Central EMS for 31 years.