Open house showcases new helicopter

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Bruce Mitchell, a registered nurse and intermediate EMT, talks to community members about the new helicopter that will be stationed in Clovis. Mitchell said the helicopter is “kinda our sports model.” The smaller aircraft travels about 30 mph

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Showing onlookers a compartment barely the size of a walk-in closet, Bruce Mitchell explained how the small area becomes a functional medical unit while at the same time, flying patients to trauma centers.

Mitchell, a registered nurse and AeroCare crew member, said Wednesday the opportunity to speak and show off the air medical service’s helicopter was one he enjoyed.

“We’re really a community based company and we like to say thanks but that’s hard to do sometimes,” he said.

In August, Med-Trans Corporation purchased Lubbock, Texas-based AeroCare from Covenant Health Systems based.

Wednesday, the company hosted an open house at its hangar at the Clovis Municipal Airport.

The open house was held to introduce their new helicopter, a Bell 407.

Deputies with the Curry County Sheriff’s Office also attended, hearing an instructional presentation on emergency landing zones.

Undersheriff Wesley Waller said deputies are responsible for setting up and securing landing zones in emergencies. This enables medical helicopters to successfully extricate patients from crash scenes and other emergency situations.

For Mitchell and other crew members, the opportunity to meet and talk with the public was the highlight of the event.

“We feel good and proud of our job. We’re really proud of what we do,” he said.

About 100 people attended the event, enjoying a chance to see the inside of the helicopter and a chance to speak with pilots and crew members.

Kevin Johnson, regional manager for Med-Trans, said the new aircraft is a boon because of its higher speed, reliability and economical attributes.

A common aircraft in the company’s fleet, Johnson said the chopper flies around 155 m.p.h., helping get patients to trauma centers faster.

Texico Fire Department volunteers Dwayne and Ronda Foreman said they went to the open house to see the new helicopter for themselves.

For a community like Texico, the drive to Clovis’ Plains Regional Medical Center can mean losing valuable time for a patient in trauma, they said.

“You’re going to kill about 30 minutes when you can just get a helicopter,” Ronda Foreman said.

The air medical service supports Clovis and surrounding communities by transporting critical patients to trauma and specialty centers in Lubbock, Amarillo and other facilities.

Helicopters can be flown directly to crash scenes and other places they are needed, cutting down on critical time when transport to the hospital is needed.