Joint effort underway to continue medical flight services in the - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Joint effort underway to continue medical flight services in the Wiregrass

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) -

There's a scramble in Dothan to make sure hospitals still have access to critical medical flight services after Wiregrass LifeFlight shut down this week. The company cited financial reasons as the cause for the sudden closure.

The program had served the area for almost two years and worked with both Flowers Hospital and Southeast Alabama Medical Center. 

For medical professionals, the thought of losing this service was unimaginable.

"When we got the news Wiregrass LifeFlight would be disbanding, we really had a concern for patients," said Joseph McNeal, Director of Emergency Services at Southeast Alabama Medical Center. "With the specialties we do offer at our organization, time is essential for those patients." 

Southeast Alabama Medical Center is a Level 2 trauma center. Not only do they receive patients, they relied on the flight service to get patients to other hospitals for more treatment.

"We do transfer patients to other hospitals, so having an air service that's in town is also a benefit to our organization," McNeal explained.

In response to the closure, Pilcher Ambulance Service and Haynes LifeFlight partnered to ensure that critically ill or critically injured patients would have no lapse in urgent, potentially life-saving care.

"Those two who were, basically at one time, business rivals, are now business partners. Not because of dollars and cents, but because of what they can do for this community," said Bruce McNeal Business, Development Manager for Haynes LifeFlight.

Right now, the medical service helicopter and crew will serve the Wiregrass area with resources from their Troy base. Starting Sept. 1, Haynes Ambulance Service will expand to Dothan and bring a helicopter and crew to the area permanently.

"The positive of this is the resource management," said Joey Pilcher, owner and operator of Pilcher Dothan Ambulance Service. "Haynes commitment to bringing in more aircraft, be it helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft, will be a positive for the community."

This new service not only ensures that patients will get to an emergency room quickly for treatment, it offers more resources to treat patients.

"They carry all the advanced medications and the equipment," McNeal said. "It's a flying intensive care unit. This unit compared to the previous provider carries blood, which can save lives in a lot of situations." 

"If they arrive on the scene to a critical trauma patient or critical cardiac patient that may be bleeding out, they can go ahead and start the blood before the patient gets to the hospital. It could be a life-saving procedure for the patient before they get to the hospital," McNeal added.

There is also work to get a small aircraft to assist with inter-hospital transfers.

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