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Higher demand makes air ambulances viable

El Paso Times/Associated Press, May 25, 2011

Demand for air medical transport services -- an expensive but often life-saving option -- is growing as an aging baby-boomer population suffers increasingly serious health problems and budget cuts limit rural medical center capabilities, experts say. Sierra Providence Health Network recently announced it will operate a helicopter designed as a flying intensive-care unit around the clock. Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare opened a new helipad at Del Sol Medical Center. Del Sol also plans to contract helicopter services in the future. El Paso's University Medical Center, a "Level 1" trauma center, also has a helipad. Both private hospital networks tout the benefits of being able to quickly respond to health problems such as strokes, heart attacks and serious accidents that require immediate attention. Residents of rural far West Texas and Southern New Mexico now will have access to specialists and high-tech equipment in the area's hospitals. With a range of about 150 miles, the service will reach Silver City, Ruidoso, Truth or Consequences and Van Horn.