By Teresa Holloway
Only the best for Houston County ...
AirEvac is bringing a brand new helicopter to Crockett. The projected operation date is Oct. 15, according to AirEvac Field Development Manager Brent Gray.
Gray updated the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors on progress to date in the development and institution of the AirEvac service for Houston County during the board's Tuesday, Sept. 22 meeting.
The lease and other logistical issues are almost complete and the air ambulance service will soon be available to residents of Houston County, according to Gray.
In prior board meetings, the HCHD agreed to provide on-site facilities for the AirEvac team. Work on the crew use area is almost complete, Gray reported.
Houston County Medical Center (HCMC) interim CEO Gary Kendrick and Gray lauded the HCMC maintenance team for their efforts and "phenomenal" outcome in painting, refurbishing and carpeting the crew area.
"I want to give kudos to Gary (Kendrick) and his crew. They are doing a phenomenal job. They've bent over backwards to help us any way they can," Gray said.
Gray distributed detailed handouts showing the mobile crew area that will eventually serve the aircraft and medical crew once the service is operational. The modular buildings will be located adjacent to the helipad for rapid deployment and efficiency, according to Gray.
There will be an EPA-approved temporary fuel point at the hospital, ready to serve the brand new helicopter AirEvac will be bringing to the county, Gray reported.
"The permanent fuel point will be a double-walled tank made to the highest EPA standards we can get," Gray said.
"The plan is to go into operation on Oct. 15. We will have hangar space available at Houston County Airport as well, in case of bad weather," he added.
"We are very excited and looking forward to opening operations here," Gray said.
"The temporary lease gets us in. As soon as we can get the permanent lease signed, we can order fixtures. We'd like to order the structures as soon as possible," he said.
"We are looking at an eight-week backorder for the structures, then a 90-day construction time," Gray added.
HCHD Board President Larry Christopher tentatively offered a meeting two weeks from the day for finalizing the lease, and asked Gray if paint color choices for the buildings would be available at that time.
HCHD Vice President Dr. John Stovall remarked, "You probably don't want to bring any teal colored paint chips," to laughter from the assembly. (Teal is associated with the previous tenant of the hospital.)
Gray and his crew also solicited approval for plans to refurbish the helipad and provide attractive landscaping to the area around the pad and crew area.