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UMMC signs agreement to operate helicopter in N. Miss.

A new agreement between a Mississippi hospital and a medical helicopter company will mean better service for those in North Mississippi.

AirCare, a medical transport helicopter service from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, will base a helicopter in Grenada this spring.

AirCare bases its current helicopters at the main UMMC campus in Jackson and at Key Field in Meridian.

“This expansion would improve emergency care in Mississippi, reduce response times, and help patients survive traumatic events,” Dr. James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs, said in a news release Monday.

“The timing and market are right for this expansion and certainly the need is present. We’ve been looking at this addition since bringing Grenada’s medical center into the UMMC family.”

UMMC signed an agreement with the Grenada facility in August and a long-term lease will go into effect this month.

AirCare transports patients from accident sites to medical facilities and between hospitals. Administrators added the Meridian-based helicopter in 2009 and a dedicated hangar and other permanent facilities there late last year.

UMMC would lease the third helicopter and source pilots and mechanics from its current partner, Lafayette, La.-based PHI Air Medical.

Plans are to have the new helicopter and four flight crews of a nurse, paramedic and pilot each, could be operational by April. The helicopter would primarily serve north Mississippi.

AirCare said the new helicopter would be an American Eurocopter 135, the same model based in Meridian.

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