Air 1 stations helicopter in Mount Pleasant

As it celebrates its twentieth anniversary of service to the East Texas region, ETMC's Air 1 emergency helicopter service has announced its expansion to three helicopters and the stationing of a full-time helicopter at Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant.

The addition of full-time Air 1 service at Titus Regional should significantly improve response times for Northeast Texas communities, explained Jim Parisi, ETMC vice president emergency/trauma services. "Reducing transportation time to a tertiary facility like ETMC Tyler's Level 1 trauma center does save lives," he said. "By having a helicopter in that region, a greater number of the severely injured patients will arrive at the trauma center within the 'golden hour', significantly improving their chances for recovery."

28-minute flight time
Parisi estimates patients traveling by ambulance from Mount Pleasant to Tyler experience a trip time of one to one-and-a-half hours. By comparison, an Air 1 helicopter transport between the two cities takes approximately 28 minutes of flight time.

The helicopter will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff will have quarters at Titus Regional, which is a designated Level 3 trauma center, and the helicopter will be stationed at the Titus Regional Medical Center helipad.

Other Air 1 helicopters
Other Air 1 helicopters are stationed at ETMC Tyler and ETMC Athens. The presence of Air 1 will significantly raise the level of care available for Northeast Texans, and provide a vital lifeline for patients experiencing critical illness or trauma, noted Ron Davis, TRMC CEO. "With the addition of Air 1, patients have immediate access to care. For example, Titus Regional has a new cardiologist on staff, Dr. Milan Sekulic, and if he diagnoses a patient as needing open heart surgery, we can save considerable time in getting that person to a higher level of services," Davis said. "That's fantastic accessibility and increases the quality of services we can offer our patients."

Air 1 provides high-quality flight care to residents within 60,000 square miles of East Texas. On occasion, it is also called upon to serve the community in searches and in disaster situations.

Gulf Coast transport
For example, Air 1 was recently used to transport patients from the Gulf Coast before and after Hurricane Rita, and has assisted law enforcement personnel in finding persons with Alzheimer's disease who have wandered from their homes.

Air 1 holds the distinction of being the first medical helicopter in Texas to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Air Medical Transport Services. "It is exciting to celebrate 20 years of Air 1 service by expanding our fleet of helicopters and providing increased services to East Texas," Parisi said.

ETMC is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in communities throughout East Texas. ETMC facilities include hospitals in Athens, Carthage, Clarksville, Crockett, Fairfield, Gilmer, Jacksonville, Mt. Vernon, Pittsburg, Quitman, Trinity and Tyler.