State eyes new medevac firm
An air ambulance service from Oregon is now working with a military contract
The state hopes to contract an Oregon company to provide air ambulance service that has been handled by an Army helicopter unit from Alaska since the beginning of the year.
Yesterday, Evergreen Helicopters Inc., headquartered in McMinnville, Ore., started flying medical evacuation services with two helicopters that will only serve military personnel. The helicopters also will be used to help fight fires on military installations.
The Army said the $3.5 million contract is only until February.
However, Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, whose Army National Guard aviators and helicopters provided interim air ambulance service for civilians when the 25th Infantry Division was sent to Iraq last year, said the state hopes to contract the same Oregon company to also provide air ambulance service for injured civilians on Oahu.
David Rath, Evergreen Helicopters president, said two Bell 412EPs, each with a crew of four, have been contracted by the Army to provide around-the-clock air ambulance service on Oahu and the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area.
"We have a long history of providing safe and effective aviation services which protect life and property in communities of all sizes in the U.S. and throughout the world," said Rath. "We are very excited about this latest contribution in support of U.S. military and DoD personnel, and look forward to expanding our capabilities to include the support of Hawaii residents and visitors on all the islands."
On Kauai, Rath said his company has partnered with Priority Air 1 Air Rescue to "provide emergency medical services on board the aircraft."
Until 2006 the round-the-clock emergency air ambulance service had been provided by the 12 Black Hawk helicopters assigned to the 68th Medical Company under the Army's Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic program, commonly known as MAST.
When the Army unit deployed to Iraq last year, its mission was picked up by the Hawaii Army National Guard's Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation, until it too was sent to Iraq. The 25th Division aviators spent nearly 15 months in Iraq and returned at Wheeler Army Airfield last month.
In the interim, four helicopters from the Army's Alaska Task Force 49 and several dozen crew members flew the emergency medevac missions.