In the first two weeks of operation, Air Evac had 20 flights back to back, spokespersons Darvin Haney and Matthew Ellis of Air Evac said.
Air Evac Lifeteam is located just outside the city of Logan in Melville at the Logan County Airport and because it doesn't have to fly in from another town, it can save a lot of time when minutes count the most.
The company is self sufficient thanks to low-cost memberships from residents in host communities and does not depend on government funding or hospital affiliations. It has 15 employees, including pilots, medics and nurses, in Logan County and they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Air Evac Lifeteam services Logan and a 70-mile radius area.
In addition to emergency flights, the company provides transportation between hospitals.
Haney said it takes 5,000 members to support an Air Evac base. Since locating in Logan, the organization has made many flights.
"Today is June 11, and we have had 13 flights already," Haney said.
Haney and Ellis met with members of the Kiwanis Club of Logan on June 11 to discuss the progress made by the company, which recently held its grand opening.
Haney said Air Evac started in another state in a very rural area in 1985 when people living there realized they needed an emergency helicopter service.
"It was a town of 8,000 people," Haney said. "They had to figure out a way to keep it up and running and they came up with the membership plan. Today, it has thousands of members across several bases."
The memberships pay for operating expenses such as maintenance and fuel costs.
For $55 a year for a single person, a member is entitled to emergency transport via helicopter. The cost is slightly higher for a family. Their insurance is billed and they don't have to pay anything other than their annual membership, according to Air Evac spokespersons, who said that helicopter transportation can run into the thousands and that regular insurance doesn't cover everything.
The typical helicopter transport costs between $12,000-$15,000 and the typical copter burns 200 gallons of fuel in an hour.
"You don't have to be a member and we will fly you, but you will be billed if you are not a member," Haney said. Air Evac currently operates and bills insurance companies in 14 states. "We collect on average 50 percent," Haney said. "If you have a membership, you won't be billed. That is a really small investment when you consider the risks and the expenses."
Air Evac transportation is affordable to just about anyone and can offer a lifesaving service in rural towns that may otherwise be unavailable, Haney said.
—For more information go to www.lifeteam.net.