“I believe this partnership will translate to
exceptional medical service during times of critical need. It places a critical
patient care team and an air ship in Big Bear Valley that will save lives,” stated
Fire Chief Jeff Willis.
Big Bear Valley
BIG BEAR FIRE and MERCY AIR
Big Bear Lake, California
Big Bear Fire Department and Mercy
Air, a division of Air Methods, announce an innovative public/private
partnership that brings a medical Air Ship to provide critical patient care
services and emergency air transportation to Big Bear Valley. This unique
public/private partnership, the first of its kind for Mercy Air and any
fire department in California, launched its operations on February 14,
2018, with a permanent base located at Big
Bear City Airport.
Service levels and
emergency medical care capability are expected to improve through this
partnership. At the same time, an ideal financial scenario now exists; whereby,
the Fire Department expects to experience budget neutral or better program
Chief Willis believes, “The
community will experience quick response. The Air Ship Patient Care Team will
also be able to provide emergency medical services during times of inclement
weather, when air travel is not readily available due to cloud cover off the
mountain. The critical care team created by this partnership is primarily for
use in emergency medical air transports; however, it can easily adapt to
provide immediate critical care ground transportation options during times of
Initially, the Air Ship
will be staffed with a combination of Mercy Air and Fire Department personnel.
Once the program is fully implemented, Big Bear Fire Department will provide
all patient care services. Working with the Mercy Air critical care team, Big
Bear Fire Paramedics will have the opportunity for new training and experience,
enhancing the overall delivery of patient care provided by the Department.
Within this partnership,
Mercy Air will always remain the owner/operator of the Air
Ship. Patients transported by Mercy Air will be flown in a new,
state-of-the-art helicopter, a Bell 407GXP. Equipped with Night Vision Goggles
(NVG), autopilot, terrain avoidance and weather overlay, the Bell 407 and team
operating the aircraft, are dedicated to the highest level in aviation safety.