Article Launched: 8/19/2006 07:30 AM
Nut Tree regains air ambulance
By Robin Miller/City Editor
Air ambulance service is returning to the Nut Tree Airport.
County officials confirmed Friday that CALSTAR, a regional, public nonprofit helicopter ambulance service headquartered in McClellan Park, will station a helicopter at the Vacaville airport beginning in September.
County Administrator Michael Johnson signed the contract with CALSTAR, ending a two-year effort to bring an air ambulance back to Vacaville. The
University of California, Davis Medical Center's Life Flight program left the local airport in October 2004 in a multimillion-dollar cost-saving maneuver.
The move resulted in longer air ambulance response times to local emergencies. In December 2004, county Emergency Medical Services officials said response times for air medics to local incidents had increased to 10 to 15 minutes from an earlier two to three minutes.
The new program, which will be known as CALSTAR 8, will "halve the response time to reach critically injured patients in central Solano and the Interstate 80 corridor, greatly increasing the rate of survival and recovery," read a notice sent out Friday. "Currently, the closest medical helicopters are based in Concord and Lodi."
Supervisor Mike Reagan rejoiced at the news.
"We have been working to get this service since UC Davis pulled out," he said. "This is an very important service in terms of trauma response and it will have a huge impact, particularly for more regional areas like Rio Vista, where it can take so long to get to an emergency room."
For trauma victims, medical treatment within one hour, often referred to as the "golden hour," can prevent potential deaths and dramatically reduce hospitalization times.
Nut Tree Airport Manager Andy Swanson was equally pleased with the news.
"This is a great thing for the community and for Solano County," he said.
Founded in 1984 as a nonprofit community service to provide helicopter ambulance service to the San Francisco Bay Region, CALSTAR now operates seven helicopter programs throughout Central and Northern California, plus an airplane operation. Crews respond from fixed bases in Auburn, Concord, Gilroy, Salinas, Santa Maria, South Lake Tahoe and Ukiah, according to the company's Web site.
The company employs only critical care registered nurses as caregivers, officials noted, and has posted a perfect operational safety record.
Robin Miller can be reached at email@example.com.
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