Lifeline helicopter visits San Manuel

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See more photos from the Lifeline helicopter visit online at

By John Hernandez

Living in a rural area usually means one is far away from an emergency trauma center. If someone is seriously injured in an accident or have a heart attack or stroke, reducing the time of travel to an emergency medical facility is of the utmost importance.

The quicker you arrive at a level 1 trauma center, the better your survival and recovery rate. The quickest emergency transport available is by a medical helicopter (air ambulance). Arizona Lifeline is an air ambulance service that is part of the AirMedCare Network, an alliance of Med-Trans, Air Evac Lifeteam and EagleMed, creating the largest air ambulance membership network in the country.

Some employees of Lifeline were at San Manuel High School on Tuesday to speak to the public about an insurance/membership plan that pays for the cost of air ambulance service.

The crew for the Lifeline air ambulance was Royce the pilot, flight nurse Noel Dolby, Gale Clawson, and David Carter. David is from San Manuel and is part of the San Manuel volunteer Fire Department.

The presenters were Alexa Bathe and Bill Bathe. Some of you baseball fans may have recognized the name Bill Bathe, who hit a homerun for the Giants in game 3 of the 1989 Bay Area (Earthquake) World Series game against the Oakland Athletics.

A 70-mile roundtrip flight in an air ambulance costs about $14,000. If you do not have health insurance this can be a big burden on a family’s finances. Even if you have health insurance, many policies only pay a portion of the cost leaving you still owing thousands of dollars.

By joining the AirMedCare Network, someone will have no out-of-pocket flight expenses if they are flown by one of their participating providers, the employees explained.

The highlight of the presentation may have been the landing of a Lifeline air ambulance at the high school. A number of students and passers by that witnessed the landing came over to see the air ambulance and even got to sit in the helicopter posing for pictures. The crew members were friendly and explained the equipment that was in the air ambulance. They answered questions and interacted with the crowd that had gathered. Noel, a flight Nurse told me that they made the flight from Tucson to San Manuel in 15 minutes. She said the average flight time is around 16 to 18 minutes but they had a good tail wind.

Lifeline is one of the few air ambulance services that when they are notified of an emergency and placed on standby, they launch and begin flying towards the emergency site to cut flight time should they be activated. Other air ambulance services wait until they are actually called for the transport before launching. Their air ambulances are equipped with the latest state of the art safety equipment.

The speakers explained the program and answered questions. Many, if not all those in attendance, signed up for the membership.

The cost for having some peace of mind was $50 a year for a one-member household, $55 a year for a two-person household and $60 per year for a three or more member house hold. As one person said at the meeting, the cost is about the price of going out to a good restaurant for dinner with your wife.

To enroll in the membership plan by phone, call 1-800-793-0010 or online at

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