East Mississippi Gains Medical Air Transport

University of Mississippi Medical Center is expanding its AirCare Transport Service to east Mississippi.

It's adding a second helicopter to serve critically ill and injured patients.

"While we'll be based in Meridian, we'll be targeting the patients who are in all of the other outlying communities from Waynesboro to Quitman, Columbus, Macon, Louisville, Philadelphia," said Donna Norris, AirCare chief flight nurse. "Basically we're just trying to get a little bit closer to the patients that we already serve, to get them to definitive care a little bit quicker."

"Luckily we have the ability to take blood and other airway products to the patients, so that they don't have to wait for an ambulance ride to get to the closest facility," said Charles Swearingen, flight paramedic. "We can bring a higher level of care to the patients bedside and maintain that care all the way back to the receiving physician so they can finish with definitive care."

As part of the expansion, AirCare will now have two helicopters available to serve the Meridian area. Within the next few weeks one of those helicopters will start being permanently housed at Meridian Regional Airport.

AirCare officials say they will travel to outlying areas and transport patients to the University Medical Center in Jackson or to one of the hospitals in Meridian for treatment.

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