ShandsCair critical care helicopter lands in Calhoun County

Bay County

CALHOUN COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) – Emergency services in the Panhandle are growing. Monday, community members and local officials held a ribbon cutting for the ShandsCair Five helicopter now stationed at the Calhoun County Airport.

This asset decked out in Florida Gator colors will serve as an ICU space in the air and will speed up EMS response times for major accidents across the panhandle.

ShandsCair Program Director Edward Crews said the chopper can transport a highly trained EMS team to the scene of an accident in just minutes. 

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“We have been working with the community leaders of this area and EMS leaders to put ShandsCair Five in the opportune area that best serves the citizens and the communities and families of this area for a faster response,” Crews said. 

Crews said in the last year this team from Shands Hospital in Gainesville responded to around 130 calls in Northwest Florida, the majority of those calls from Calhoun and Liberty counties. Now with this helicopter stationed at the Calhoun County Airport response times will be even quicker and more lives will be saved.

Flight Paramedic Cody Royce said this response time will be much quicker than what they can achieve on the ground.

“The goal at the end of the day is to get our patient to the closest and most appropriate facility,” Royce said.

The helicopter has three crew members: a pilot, a flight nurse and a flight paramedic. 

They can fly the patient to the best hospital for care or assist with treatment at the scene.

Flight paramedic Blue Hudson said they are an ambulance in the sky.

“We are 24/7, seven days a week,” Hudson said. “Our coverage area can go from here to Atlanta to New Orleans to Orlando for this specific base. Basically everything that we have in here has ventilators and all your basic active drips that would be in an icu setting.”

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Shands hopes that this will help save lives in rural areas and has plans to create others like it in the future.

Rob Sims, the Calhoun County Airport Manager, said this is a huge game changer for them both in safety and job creation.

“Having this asset here changes the community because it provides jobs in our community as well,” Sims said. “So we have local paramedics that work with this as well and it’s just a great thing to have here.” 

Sims said the airport has experienced major growth over the last year and they hope to add another 40 to 50 new jobs. 

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