Augusta University Health’s AirCare helicopter’s recently completed hangar was dedicated on Feb.23 at Augusta Regional Airport.
Dr. Phillip Coule, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Augusta University Health System, said they knew AirCare was needed, especially to help serve the rural parts of Georgia. However, he didn’t anticipate how much of an impact the helicopter would have, or how far it would range.
Numbers show AirCare, operated by Metro Aviation in partnership with AU Health, has logged 700 transports in its first eighteen months. The majority have been within Georgia, but the helicopter has also brought patients from South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, and Florida.
Coule said that translates to benefits for patients and impacts the Augusta economy.
“That patient comes back to our facility here in Augusta, as opposed to perhaps ending up in Atlanta or another city. So, this is a way of extending the reach of Augusta University Health System out into more of the region,” he said, adding, “We know we provide that world-class care here. This allows us to bring them back here. And that has a profound economic impact for Augusta.”
Herbert Judon, Jr., Executive Director of the airport, said having AirCare as a presence also benefits the airport.
“This operation kind of represents another piece of the puzzle as we try to grow the airport. What this means for us is increased aeronautical activity, more people with the airport, of course, this beautiful structure here. And it also drives many other of our lines of business at the airport. And have no doubt that this particular facility will help spur additional growth at the airport, even unrelated growth,” Judon said.
The new hangar will do more than just house the helicopter. Half of the structure is multi-use, including living quarters for Metro Aviation pilots and technicians. It also has training facilities and a conference room.
The helicopter had been housed in a temporary hangar. That created a complication for the 2022 Masters Week. The temporary hanger was set up on airport property that was normally used to park private planes that land during the tournament.
With the dedication of the permanent hangar, the temporary shelter was removed. Aviation Commission Chairman, Dan Troutman said they will be able to use the area to park planes during Masters Week 2023.