Aeromedical helicopter receives upgrades, flies longer distances

West Virginia

With more people calling the Eastern Panhandle home, EMS are seeing an increase in patients. 

“We transport to Ruby Memorial often. By ground, that’s probably 2 and a half to 3 hours and in our aircraft here it’s about 40 to 50 minutes,” said flight team leader for HealthNet Aeromedical Services, Zachary Risoldi.

The EC-135 aircraft allows crews to fly longer distances, at higher speeds and in inclement weather. 

“This aircraft is certified for instrument flight conditions that allows us to get the patient through cloud cover,” said Risoldi.

And because it can withstand bad weather, more flights are completed — meaning more patients are transported.

“We respond to approximately 40 patients a month, which averages about one and a quarter or so per day,” said Risoldi.

In just two weeks, Risoldi said about 20 people have been transported from all across the Four State.

“They’re trying to save lives in the back, my job is to get them there safely and as quickly as possible,” said lead pilot for Air Methods HealthNet Base 8, Craig Peyton.

Risoldi also added, “We are the only aircraft locally who travel with blood products on each and every flight. We are staffed with the capability, equipment, and personnel who can provide ICU level care in flight.”

The average out of pocket expense in West Virginia is about $400 to $500, which is less than a ground ambulance bill.

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