Henry Co. Is the New Home to Medical Helicopter - WSET.com - ABC13

Henry Co. Is the New Home to Medical Helicopter

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Reporter: Heather Rosenbaum | Videographer: RJ Burnette

Henry Co., VA -- The Blue Ridge Airport in Henry County has become home to Wake Forest Baptist Health's third medical helicopter. Their other two are in North Carolina.

Officials say that with the medical equipment, it costs more than $8 million. It has top of the line features, and it is ready to serve more than eight counties.

Within minutes, the medical helicopter can leave its Henry County home and arrive at an emergency.

"It greatly reduces the mortality rate, so this is a great asset for this community," said Tony Raymond, base manager.

In fact, before the 'AirCare 3' made Henry County its base, critical care patients would have to wait up to 30 minutes for helicopter pick up. This chopper will cut that wait in half.

"A lot of the patients we do go pick up, if they were not picked up by an aircraft and taken to a trauma center quickly, I think they may have had a different outcome," said Raymond.

"We have assurance that if we have something go wrong in our community it's close by. It can get our people to the hospital," said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway.

Baptist chose Henry County because of its central location. It can take patients to Roanoke or North Carolina.

"As our company has grown, we have looked at undeserved communities and this became one of the communities we wanted to serve," said Jason Decker, field operations manager.

They're predicting about 2 calls a day, so this chopper will be busy. But it's ready for anything.

"We have terrain avoidance warning systems. We also have weather overlays so we can see where the weather is and divert around it," said Decker.

It has top of the line night vision goggles in front for the pilot and state of the art medical equipment in the back.

"They can monitor all the vitals on the patient with that ZOLL monitor," said Jim McKinley, the lead pilot.

"Very high tech, yes it is!" said Decker.

They will have a crew stationed 24/7 including a mechanic, pilot and medical crews. While it became available for use on Monday, they have not been able to take any calls yet  because of the weather.

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