EMS expansion in Northern Virginia

 - January 31, 2007, 5:04 AM

EMS operator Inova AirCare is doubling its fleet of aeromed helicopters this month in an effort to increase service to residents of Northern Virginia and the fast-growing Northern Neck area. It will also open a second base in the area.

The Petroleum Helicopters operation is upgrading from a Bell 412HP to two 412SPs, which will be used full time on airborne intensive-care and hospital-transport missions. Acceptance of both helicopters is scheduled for month end. A third helicopter–a Bell 407–is also to be brought in as a backup during maintenance periods. The existing 412HP will be refurbished and sold.

Inova AirCare operates out of Manassas Regional Airport and, for two years, the 412HP crews have served communities within 200 miles of Inova Fairfax Hospital. It will base the second helicopter at Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Va., to answer calls in counties along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, extending south toward Richmond.

“With one aircraft at Manassas,” said Dan Hanfling, director of emergency management and disaster medicine, “we found we were maxing out the number of flights we could do. We realized [Fredericksburg] was an area that was underserved and really demonstrated a need.”

Program director Mike Norton told AIN that it had to turn down “too many” flight requests last year, making the expansion opportunity too hard to pass up. Until the limitation kicked in, Inova AirCare had transported nearly 1,000 patients, some 60 percent of whom were the result of emergency calls.