Structure being built for air crew at ACH

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

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A modular building is being built next to the helopad at Atmore Community Hospital to be used for an office and sleeping quarters for Medstar Air Care’s flight crews.

Last Tuesday, the Atmore City Council approved a business license for the medical aircraft service.

ACH Administrator Doug Tanner said a number of months ago, Medstar approached the hospital, saying they were interested in establishing a base of operations in Escambia County.

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“They could’ve done it at the airport, but it made sense to them as well to do it here,” Tanner said. “This would put them in immediate proximity to the hospital.”

Tanner said ACH has been working on a contract and executed an agreement last week with Medstar, where the aircraft company will lease space on the campus.

“The aircraft will be based here around the clock,” Tanner added. “They’ll have some refueling capabilities, like a portable refueling tank. I think it’s a great thing for the citizens here because most of the time when we call Medstar, they’re flying from the base they have in Stapleton, just outside of Bay Minette.”

Tanner said given that Medstar will be the primary air EMS service for ACH, if they’re out on a mission, the hospital can call another service.

At present, Tanner said Medstar is renting room space in the hospital each night while they’re on call.

“At night, we have some exam rooms in the hospital we’re not using, and we’re actually renting the rooms so the flight crew at night will have some place to rest,” he said. “Then, they pull out of those rooms in the morning so we can get them cleaned so patients can be seen.”

One of the main reasons Medstar chose Atmore as a base is because of the proximity to the surrounding areas, Tanner said, adding that a helicopter company ended operations at a base in Evergreen recently.