New helicopter and new ambulances to better serve West Plains, Mo. area

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 10:55 PM CST
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Some new life-saving equipment upgrades are happening in Howell County.

The South Howell County Ambulance District and Air Evac Lifeteam are upgrading to better serve their patients.

"We had some (ambulances) with 300,000 plus miles," Daniel Marshall told KY3.

South Howell County is upgrading its ambulance fleet.

Two new ones have been on the streets for a month, with a third arriving next week and three more by summer.

"This keeps us on the road, keeps us moving patients safely and in a timely manner," Marshall added.

Chief Clinical Officer Daniel Marshall says you wouldn't believe how often ambulances have to be serviced.

With such a large service area, all nine ambulances are often needed.

He anticipates far less down time with a new fleet.

"The amount of miles that get put on theses, the wear and tear, stopping and going, the constant abrupt stops, the speeds, the kinetic forces involved in that," Marshall explained.

Marshall says the older ambulances needed parts that weren't cheap or readily available - it's the opposite with the new rides.

Next week, a Power-Load system will be installed in the ambulances.

It's essentially a trolley system that connects to the stretcher to more easily load patients into the back of the ambulance.

"That reduces the risk of patient drops when we're loading them into the ambulance and also reduces the risks of back injuries," Marshall exclaimed.

That covers the ground, but what about the air?

Air Evac in West Plains recently put a new Bell 407 helicopter in service.

"Everything we do is based off trying to shorten the time that we're getting you to the people that you need to get to," Program Director George Lajoie said.

The trip to Springfield - which is the most common made from West Plains - just got shorter.

"From here to Springfield the normal flight time is around 45 minutes with a 206. With a 407, we're looking at 37 to 38 minutes. So it saves us a little bit on time and it can carry a little more weight," Lajoie told KY3.

The new ambulances that will soon fill the bays here are thanks to a half-cent sales tax passed by voters last April. The funds from that sales tax are used for the new ambulances, the power load system and raises for certain positions to at least meet the 2020 minimum wage set by the state of Missouri.