COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Canyon Vista Medical Center in Cochise County just got a new helicopter that will play a critical role in emergency response time.
"We can take a patient and just go immediately," said Guy Fedor, lead Air Evac helicopter pilot.
The new Airbus AS350 can handle more weight, which will allow them to carry more fuel and increase their flying distance, according to Fedor.
"With the fuel in the other helicopter, typically Copper Queen and Bisbee would be the farthest east we'd go – now we can go to Douglas border, Tucson to d rop off a patient, or here to Nogales," Fedor said.
The new helicopter can hold over three and a half hours of fuel range.
Fedor said they can take a patient up to Phoenix and back to Sierra Vista without having to stop and refuel at all.
That's something that wasn't possible with the old model.
The helicopter is also able to carry over 260 more pounds than the old model.
"Sometimes they would have to burn off fuel in order to take a larger patient or perhaps more equipment with them," said Deanna Richardson, E.R. interim director of the Canyon Vista Medical Center.
The Canyon Vista Medical Center treats Level 3 trauma patients, meaning the more critical injured patients have to be rushed to Tucson.
"Any critical patient that's a Level 1 trauma, we have that golden hour, where every second counts," Richardson said.
Fedor said he appreciates the new upgraded helicopter every time he takes off for a call.
"With the range of this helicopter, weight carrying capacity and additional safety features, it's a much better asset to the community," Fedor said.
The Air Evac team said the helicopter also has better terrain awareness and night vision capabilities.
They also have a helicopter stationed at the Sierra Vista Airport, so if there was a mechanical issue, they have a backup.