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Emergency helicopter service to start at McAllen Medical Center

McAllen Medical Center CEO Joe Riley

A helicopter ambulance company will begin service from McAllen this Fall.

Air Evac Lifetime plans to set up shop in October.

They'll be based at McAllen Medical and provide service across the Rio Grande Valley.

Doctor Kenneth Ro spends his days in the emergency room at McAllen Medical Center.

Many of his patients are in life or death situations.

"Time is of the essence when it comes to trauma," said Dr. Ro.

His team does their best to make them all better, but first those patients need to make it to the trauma center in time for care.

"The quicker we can transport them here to the hospital to stabilize them get a definitive diagnosis the better," said Ro.

Dr. Ro said there's a golden hour when it comes to trauma care.

"If there's a delay past the 60 minutes, then we're going to get more and more morbidity and possible death," said Dr. Ro.

He said the faster the care, the better the outcome.

"So we're really excited about a helicopter service we're starting here," he said.

In October, Air Evac Lifeteam will begin serving the Rio Grande Valley.

Although the helicopter will be based at the McAllen Medical Center, a spokesperson for Air Evac Lifeteam said the helicopter will service other hospitals within a 70 mile radius.

"If you're out on the periphery of the communities that we serve and you are having a heartattack,time is money, so a helicopter service would be able to bring you to the hospital for your care," said McAllen Medical Center CEO Joe Riley.

If you are in the Starr County area and need to get to the trauma center at McAllen Medical, Dr. Ro said it would only take a 10 minute flight as opposed to 50 minutes by ambulance.

"You can tell that would really help the patient," said Dr. Ro.

And since doctors at the trauma center are in the business of saving lives, they are eager for the arrival of the helicopter service.

The helicopter company offers a membership for those who don't want to worry about the expense if they ever need the service.

It costs $50 dollars for one person, $55 dollars for a couple and $60 dollars for a household of three or more.

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