“Currently … this will be our second operational base,” Life Ambulance owner and CEO Mike Pistole said, after arriving via helicopter. “We have plans for many more over the next few years.
We’ll just take one base at a time where they are needed.”
Pistole talked about the area that will be covered from the new Chillicothe base.
“These aircraft here in Chillicothe will serve a 70-mile radius from Chillicothe, including all of the counties within a 70-mile area,” Pistole said. “It (Life Air) will continue to help Life Ambulance grow, and Life Ambulance will continue to help it grow.”
Dr. Wayne Wheeler, medical director for Life Ambulance and Life Air, said Life Air has not only brought a medical transport helicopter to the Chillicothe area, but they have also built their own helicopter base. That base will be manned and on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of nurses, paramedics, pilots and certified aircraft mechanics. The base contains office space for operations, living and sleeping quarters for the crews, and a new FAA (Federal Aeronautics Administration)-approved helipad complete with lights for nighttime operations.
“Certainly for Life Ambulance and the hospital, this is a real positive development,” President and CEO of Adena Health System Mark Shuter said. “At the hospital we have been growing our services, and extending our reach out into other counties, and Life has been doing the same thing. So I think this is just one of those really positive community developments. We’re really proud of them.”
Shuter said the location of the new facility had other benefits for the community including employment.
“Health care is always the number one employer in the community. It has generally been the fastest-growing segment,” Shuter said. “So, again, for our community development this is a real growth opportunity.”
Pistole said every new base comes with new jobs.
“The entire Life Ambulance/Life Air enterprise employs over 900 people,” Pistole said. “Every new base adds new jobs. Not just pilots, medics and mechanics, but also administrative staff, medical billing specialists, dispatchers, and management personnel. The four-story corporate headquarters building located in Portsmouth continues to push its limits as new people are added to the Life family.”
Pistole said another key component of Life Air is its state-of-the-art communication and dispatch center located in Portsmouth, which he says is capable of watching the aircraft 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while at the same time keeping an eye on and coordinating things such as weather, winds and ground transportation.
“The dispatch center is truly a remarkable sight to see,” Pistole said. “When visitors tour the dispatch center the most common comment is, ‘you don’t expect to see anything like this in Portsmouth, Ohio.’”
The new Life Air base in Chillicothe will serve Adams, Athens, Brown, Clark, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Gallia, Greene, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Licking, Madison, Meigs, Morgan, Pickaway, Pike, Perry, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.