Medical helicopter service expanding to Hastings

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — A medical transportation company will be stationing a helicopter in Hastings to complement flights from its base at North Platte Regional Airport.

Midwest MedAir has had a helicopter in North Platte since 2010 and responds to as many as 400 emergency calls a year, said Midwest MedAir operations director Steve Gardiner.

The company said the addition of a helicopter in Hastings won’t affect the call volume but will affect response times.

“Response time is going to be drastically reduced, because we have flown missions out of this area. But we had to come all the way from North Platte, and it’s a good hour flight,” pilot Michael Madura told television station KOLN/KGIN.

The service operates 24 hours every day of the year, ferrying critical care, high-risk pregnancy and trauma patients to hospitals as far west as Denver and east to Omaha. Fire departments also rely on Midwest MedAir to rush accident and disaster victims to the appropriate hospitals.

The Hastings helicopter will be the same kind used in North Platte: a 2010 American Eurocopter EC135-P2. They have up-to-date avionics and navigation equipment and are designed to fly in all sorts of weather.

They can carry two patients at a time. The crew typically consists of a pilot, a nurse and a paramedic, Gardiner said.

The medical crew in North Platte is training the new crew in Hastings, Gardiner told The North Platte Telegraph. “We will rotate them around from one community to the next to maintain standardization,” he said.

The new helicopter is expected to arrive and begin its Hastings operations by the end of the month.

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