Rowan County adds helicopter to emergency transportation

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — For Rowan County patients who don’t have time to wait for an ambulance, a new medical helicopter is on standby.

Novant Health added the area's first helicopter in an attempt save hundreds of lives per year.

Every minute matters during an emergency, and now for the first time, Rowan County has more power to make those minutes count.

The helicopter has all the latest technology; essentially it’s a flying intensive care unit. The crew will be able to immediately start treating patients on the flight and save valuable time.

"It's going to change a lot,” said Amy Cherry, a flight paramedic. “When you're talking about trauma and dealing with the things we're dealing with, time is essential."

Before, when someone was seriously injured in a crash or there was someone with a serious medical issue, a helicopter was flown in from Charlotte or Winston-Salem.

Those flights take approximately 18 minutes one way.

"I've been doing this for about six years now, and I've seen a major difference in people's lives because of a helicopter,” Cherry said.

The paramedics in helicopters are preparing to transport 300 people a year, and not just locally.

Anytime someone calls with an emergency from northern South Carolina to southern Virginia, they will rush in to transport them to the nearest trauma center.

"The blessing that we have is that we don't have to stop for stoplights and we don't have to deal with traffic,” flight paramedic Katie Prater said.

Crews say they made their first run on Monday to save someone who had a heart attack.

Rowan County has approximately 145,000 people.

Novant Health is the only hospital in the county, so they say this will help them fill a critical need for their growing area.

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