Third Chopper Coming Soon
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:18 PM EDT
A third air ambulance is in the works for Mission Health, there is already one is Asheville and another in Franklin.
As News 13's Jay Siltzer reports in today's Health Alert, numbers show there is a need for additional service.
Mission dispatchers responsible for radioing two MAMA ambulance choppers to emergencies may soon have a third helicopter in the mountain area medical airlift fleet.
John Grindstaff, RN, Mission Air Medical Supervisor, "over the past couple of years, we've identified several calls each year that we're not able to make because both of the current helicopters are either busy or undergoing routine maintenance... So we're not able to serve the number of calls we have currently."
Bruce Thorsen, Mission Foundation President, "last year it was 150 flights that we were not able to answer here in Western North Carolina... So when we add a third aircraft, we will be able to cover that 150 plus another 250 because each aircraft is capable of making 400 flights a year."
Getting another chopper off the ground, though, isn't cheap, about $2 million according to mission foundation officials. Raising that money is more important than ever to R.B. Ensley, a heart attack patient who relied on a MAMA chopper for transport.
R.B. Hensley, MAMA patient, "I think if it hadn't been for mama, I don't think I could have made it another 30 minutes it would have taken to get to the hospital."
A third chopper is expected to further increase survivor rates from heart attacks, stroke and other health emergencies.
Precisely where the third chopper would be based has not been determined, but we are told the Burnsville area is a strong consideration.
The foundation has raised about $500,000 toward its goal of $2 million.