Air 1

UT Health East Texas now has an Air 1 helicopter based in Quitman.

A UT Health East Texas AIR 1 emergency helicopter has a new home base: UT Health Quitman.

The helicopter based at UT Health Quitman will serve the communities of Northeast Texas. The relocation of the air base to Quitman comes after months of analyzing the critical care needs in the area, hospital officials said.

The helicopter previously was based in Pittsburg.

“By moving the helicopter to a more centralized area of the region, we are able to make sure patients in critical emergency situations arrive at UT Health Tyler’s Level I trauma center within the golden hour, significantly improving their chances for recovery,” said John Smith, CEO of UT Health East Texas EMS and AIR 1.

“By moving the helicopter to UT Health Quitman, we save several minutes of flight time, which can make a big difference in critical situations. This is just another example of how we work continuously to improve and provide the best critical care to the residents of East Texas,” Smith said.

Having a helicopter stationed in Quitman will provide additional benefits for patients, said UT Health Quitman CEO Patrick Swindle.

“Its presence on campus will allow for faster transfers from our emergency department,” Swindle said. “Additionally, we will be able to access the expertise of the flight crew in the hospital during trauma situations, and we’ll have even better integration of air transport with the hospital’s Level IV trauma center and Level III stroke center.”

UT Health East Texas AIR 1 was one of the first emergency air programs in Texas to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Air Medical Transport Services. UT Health East Texas partners with Metro Aviation Inc. to provide emergency helicopter service.

“We are excited to base in Quitman,” said Michael Lawyer, program director and chief flight nurse for UT Health East Texas AIR 1. “Locating one of our aircraft at UT Health Quitman, will put us in the best operational position to support our EMS resources in Wood County and better serve the entire UT Health East Texas system.”

In 2015, AIR 1 celebrated 30 years of service to East Texas. The fleet is composed of three helicopters that are staffed 24/7 with a pilot, nurse and paramedic. Other UT Health East Texas emergency helicopters are based in Henderson and Athens.

Danny Mogle has covered news in East Texas for decades. He currently focuses on arts, entertainment and human interest stories and serves as the editor of Lifestyles Magazine.

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