WASHINGTON TERRACE — With hospitals forced to shuttle around more COVID-19 patients as intensive care unit capacities are stretched, helicopter transport is at the fore.
“It’s super critical,” said Brad Palmer, marketing director of MountainStar Healthcare, which operates Ogden Regional Medical Center and seven other Wasatch Front hospitals.
Colorado-based Air Methods announced Thursday it will open a helicopter base at Ogden Regional to provide emergency air services throughout Northern Utah, southern Idaho and southwest Wyoming.
The new service, called AirLife Utah, is a partnership with MountainStar.
The service will respond to emergency medical calls for trauma events such as heart attacks, strokes, pediatric emergencies and other incidents, plus interfacility transports as area hospitals manage the current surge of COVID-19 cases, the companies said in a joint news release.
Palmer said Air Methods has served hospitals in many markets of MountainStar’s parent company, HCA Healthcare.
MountainStar previously contracted with Global Medical Response, which had bases in Ogden and Payson. That service was called AirCare.
The new AirLife service will serve Ogden Regional, Cache Valley Hospital, Brigham City Hospital, Pleasant View Emergency Center, Lakeview Hospital and other community hospitals in the region, Air Methods said.
The service will begin Tuesday.
The AirLife Utah air ambulance is staffed with experienced trauma clinicians and pilots and carries blood and plasma on every flight, according to Air Methods.
“I’m pleased that Air Methods will be MountainStar Healthcare’s new partner for air ambulance services, which we will proudly station right here at Ogden Regional,” Mark Adams, Ogden Regional CEO, said in the announcement.
Both Adams and Michael Jenkins, an Air Methods area manager, said the new service will offer timely help as the pandemic pressures the community.
Jenkins said changes in the hospital industry also make air services more important.
“With the continued consolidation of hospitals and the growing number of rural hospital closures across the United States, the clinical support and speed of transport is critical to ensure patients receive the best and most timely treatment possible,” he said in the announcement.