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Emergency responders expand their coverage with new helicopter base

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Posted at 6:12 PM, Dec 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-10 20:12:23-05

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah -- AirMed just added a new helicopter base in Tooele, and it’s an addition that flight medics said will save lives.

University Hospital’s new helicopter base will be the jumping off point for medical emergencies in western Utah and the eastern part of Nevada -- an area AirMed is called to on a regular basis.

“We have been looking at our call volumes increasing in the Tooele area and along I-80 for a little over a year now, so we realized the need,” said Frankie Hurst, who is the program manager for AirMed.

Flight nurse Amanda Lawrence said they often respond to the area.

“We've been out on the I-80 corridor more times than I could even count,” she said.

Flight medics said, because of the long distances, AirMed can be on the scene sometimes hours before anyone on the ground arrives.

“We have what's called the golden hour of trauma,” Lawrence said. “People who are involved in medicine have heard that term a number of times. It basically means from the time of the incident to the time they need to be in an operating room getting their injuries repaired is an hour.”

This is AirMed's fifth helicopter base, and all are positioned to expand its reach into the back country -- and now with the Tooele base it will stretch into the desert.

“It's something that the University Hospital has wanted to do for several years,” Colleen Connelly said. “We are very committed to providing the absolute, most quality patient care that we can. That's our mission.”

The new base cost about $250,000 to build, but officials said you can't put a price tag on time.