HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Emergency situations can happen to anyone, at any time, and living in a fairly remote area with limited medical resources poses concern for some residents should an urgent care scenario arise. While Chatuge Regional Hospital is well-equipped to handle standard ailments, trauma patients are regulary flown to distant facilities for advanced treatment.
Towns County citizens are automatically enrolled in coverage, at no charge, through AirMethods, also known as Life Flight, an air ambulance service that transports urgent care patients to trauma centers. Residents within the city limits of Hiawassee, however, are dually covered through an additional air flight insurance program: AirMed, commonly referred to as LifeForce.
The secondary flight insurance granted to Hiawassee citizens, thanks to the initiative of Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, is available to county residents seeking increased peace of mind. In the event that LifeFlight is engaged in service, or grounded due to maintenance, LifeForce is dispatched to one of the four landing zones within the county’s perimeter. The cost to those lacking LifeForce insurance can reach in excess of $30,000 for a single life-saving transport. Additionally, if multiple accident victims are simultaneously in need of advanced medical care, the helicopters are limited to one patient per flight.
AirMed Representative Shane Headrick presented invited information on the insurance program to local residents at the Towns County Civic Center on Thursday, Sept. 19. For an annual payment of $85.00, Towns County citizens are assured flight coverage to a trauma center through LifeForce at no out-of-pocket cost. For seniors, 60 years and older, annual membership is $65.00, respectfully. The price of a single membership covers emergency flight transport for the enrolled member’s complete household.
According to Headrick, LifeForce transported 73 patients from Towns County last year. In comparision, 68 trauma victims were airlifted from Union County, with over 300 Fannin County patients provided flight transportation by the company in 2017.
The air ambulance is staffed with a pilot, a flight paramedic, and a flight nurse, with Headrick equating the level of service provided to that of a portable emergency room. Patients are swiftly transported to advanced trauma facilities in Atlanta, Asheville, Gainesville, Knoxville, or Chattanooga. “The rule of thumb is that we’re taking you to the nearest one,” Headrick explained. Furthermore, insurance members who have ventured outside the confines of the county are likewise covered if airlifted by a LifeForce ambulance flight provider.
LifeForce operates from over 320 locations, spanned across 39 states. The emergency flight service recently deployed 12 aircraft to the eastern seaboard, staffed with 72 crew members, to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
Additional information on the AirMed/LifeForce insurance program can be found online, or by dialing Local Membership Sales Manager Shane Headrick at 706-483-4428.
Photo Credit: Vertical Magazine
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