San Antonio AirLIFE Announces Services to Uvalde

Uvalde Memorial Hospital staff excited about even quicker emergency transports

As of January 27, 2012, San Antonio AirLIFE, the premier not-for-profit medical helicopter program in South Texas, began 24-hour operations in Uvalde. AirLIFE, which is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services and is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS), will station one Bell 407 helicopter in Uvalde at Garner Field Airport.

“We are excited to offer 24/7 service to the citizens of Uvalde and the surrounding region,” stated AirLIFE President & CEO, Shawn Salter. AirLIFE has been sending an aircraft to Uvalde several days each week during peak times of request for service for the past seven years.

For Uvalde Memorial Hospital, AirLIFE’s 24-hour service is yet another opportunity for the hospital to continue to provide efficient and high-quality patient care.

“Having the ability to cut some of the transport time is a big deal for our patients. In critical situations, even a few minutes can make a big difference,” Uvalde Memorial Hospital Administrator Jim Buckner said.

Salter agrees with Buckner. “This Uvalde-based helicopter will provide a life-line for critically ill or injured patients in the region. It is AirLIFE’s mission to provide safe and timely response and to deliver high-quality, state-of-the-art medical care during transport for all patients requiring our service,” Salter said.

Timely transport is always a necessity; however, in rural settings, it can be difficult to find it. Uvalde is already fortunate to have excellent and timely emergency responders, and now AirLIFE becomes another accessible local resource.

And in the short few days AirLIFE has been in town 24/7, the crew has already been called on several times.

“We have kept them very busy. They hadn’t even touched down at the airport on the first day before we were calling them for a transport,” UMH Emergency Department Director Jan Morris said.

While UMH has three options for air transports, the hospital most frequently utilizes AirLIFE.

“The hospital staff highly respects the AirLIFE team for its abilities, professionalism, and efficiency in transporting patients. We look forward to continuing to work with them and are thankful that air transport capability is even more readily available,” Buckner said.

UMH has a strong relationship with AirLIFE. In 2011, one of UMH’s nursing supervisors, Denise Fletcher, RN, was selected as AirLIFE’s Hospital Representative of the Year. Before that, in 2010, AirLIFE staff (flight team, nurses, etc.) voted UMH its Rural Healthcare Facility of the Year.

Planning for a community open house is currently underway. The open house should take place sometime in late February or early March.

AirLIFE also currently has medical helicopters based in New Braunfels, Kerrville, and San

Antonio, and is an active member of the trauma preparedness group known as the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) for the Texas Trauma Service Area - P.

AirLIFE is a consortium between the Baptist Health System and the University Health System. Since its inception, it has transported more than 45,000 patients providing safe transport and advanced medical management to those who were in need.

For more information about AirLIFE, please call AirLIFE Director of Business Development Steve Soliz at (210) 233-5807.