Arizona-based Native Air 1, a US air medical service provider Air Methods programme, has celebrated 25 years of service to the East Valley community along with past and present crew members, hospital executives and local partners.
“Let me take you back to 1995 when Rick Heape founded Native American Air Ambulance to service the underserved tribal nations,” says Air Methods account executive Nicola Crim. “Heape was a member of the Cherokee tribe and saw a need to service the rural communities and helped them gain critical care access.”
The Native Air 1 base was established in 1997 and has since provided 24/7 emergency access to the East Valley and beyond. As the first rotor wing base in the state of Arizona under the Native Air brand, Native Air 1 crews have completed more than 10,000 patient transports since opening.
From humble beginnings at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport, it relocated to Gilbert Hospital and spent a number of years serving the community before the hospital closed, prompting another relocation. In 2018, the Native Air crew found their home base at Dignity Health Arizona General Hospital in Mesa.
“We have enjoyed our strong partnership with Native Air, which helps us to provide critical access to medical care,” said Dignity Health Arizona General Hospital president and CEO Jane Hanson. “With a direct link from flight crews to our doctors and nurses in the emergency department, we know our partnership provides efficient, patient-centred care for the East Valley community.”
Native Air's A-Star 350 aircraft is operated by Air Methods, which to date has opened eight base locations throughout Arizona under the Native Air programme. The Native Air 1 crew comprises of 14 registered nurses, paramedics, pilots and mechanics, and the aircraft is stocked with whole blood to be administered in-flight during pre-hospital air medical transport for patients suffering significant blood loss.