Wings Air Rescue helicopter added in Morristown

By Julie Fann
Star Staff

Jim Burrough, Emergency Management Agency director for Carter County, believes a new Wings Air Rescue helicopter soon to be placed at Lakeway Regional Hospital in Morristown will free up rescue workers to better assist Carter Countians.
   "I know Wings has always been good to come help us, even during disaster drills. I think if they can get a Wings Air Rescue ambulance service down there, it will be an asset to this area as well," Burrough said.
   Mountain States Health Alliance, Lakeway Regional Hospital, and Med-Trans Corporation announced Tuesday that Wings Air Rescue II, an air ambulance service, will be based at the Hamblen County facility within 60 days.
   According to Dwain Rowe, Chief Flight Nurse for Wings Air Rescue, adding a helicopter in Morristown will help meet a tremendous need here.
   "This past summer, we had gotten so busy that we missed several calls in our core area, so we weren't able to meet the needs of patients here. We were being called a lot to Hamblen, Cocke, Hawkins, West Greene, and Hancock counties, and so it seemed a natural place to put a helicopter," Rowe said.
   Like its sister helicopter at Johnson City Medical Center, Wings Air Rescue II will be a Bell 407 helicopter with a dedicated backup aircraft immediately available during times of maintenance. Each flight crew consists of an experienced pilot, registered nurse, and a paramedic.
   "The bottom line is it's good for Carter County that we're splitting the duties with east and west. In part, this a response to the Carter County EMA because we'd gotten so busy they wanted to make sure their customers were provided better service. They were instrumental in this decision," Rowe said.
   Wings Air Rescue has been a regional asset since 1995, transporting patients to medical centers throughout a 125-mile radius.
   "More than 1,600 patients from the Hamblen County area have been served by Wings Air Rescue over the past eight years," said Mountain States President/CEO Dennis Vonderfecht. "Wings Air Rescue II is a natural progression in air ambulance service to better meet the needs of the Hamblen County area."
   Lakeway Regional Hospital is a fully accredited 135-bed, acute care general hospital with a referral area of 145,000 people. It is a member of the Federation of American Hospitals, Tennessee Hospital Association, and the American Hospital Association.