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The napkin concept paid off. “In 1983, the first-ever EMS helicopter in North Dakota, and one of the few in the country, started operations in a Bell 206,” Rohlfs says. “Over time, more area hospitals took notice of what Med-Trans was doing with helicopters and more programs followed suit in North Dakota and Nebraska.”


Other HEMS operations had similarly humble beginnings. GMR’s Air Evac Lifeteam “was formed in August 1985 with one helicopter in West Plains, Missouri, a rural community about 90 minutes from the closest Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center,” says Daniel Sweeza, GMR’s senior VP of operations. “Today, Air Evac Lifeteam has more than 140 air medical locations across 15 states.”


Then there’s Reach Air Medical Services, which launched in 1987 with a single Agusta A109A in Sonoma County, California. “Reach was spurred by the vision of Dr. John L. McDonald, whose passion was to bring enhanced trauma care to serve rural communities,” says Vicky Spediacci, GMR’s West Region Air COO. “He was instrumental in developing the trauma center in Sonoma County, and part of that solution was the implementation of a helicopter air ambulance program. He did so knowing the time-saving critical care element this could bring to the community.”


HEMS also were launching up in other parts of the globe in the 1970s and 1980s. “The world’s first permanent HEMS base was set up by ADAC Luftrettung in Munich during November 1970,” says Ralph Setz, Airbus Helicopters’ senior manager of operational marketing for HEMS. “It was equipped with a BO105, whose flat floor, rear loading doors, and high main/tail rotors made this helicopter ideal for HEMS missions.”


Lack of space prevents us from covering all of the HEMS operations that are now in operation worldwide. Suffice it to say, HEMS is a global concept.


Innovating to suit your Air Medical needs during a global pandemic.


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