Providing fast service to the community isn't the only thing Air Evac Lifeteam has to offer.

The medical helicopter company, which operates in conjunction with local medical personnel and law enforcement agencies, is interested in providing the best possible care while transporting patients to specialized hospitals.

The team that is stationed at the Ennis Regional Medical Center may be new to the area but are very experienced on what it takes to provide air ambulance services.

"For my position as a flight paramedic, I needed to have a minimum of three years as a ground medic in a busy program, not to mention many other accreditations including everything from basic trauma life support to more advanced cardiac and pediatric life support," said Cliff Brooks.

Brooks is one of four flight paramedics that are stationed in Ennis and works as a team with the four flight nurses and four pilots, also stationed in Ennis to transport patients to more specialized facilities depending on the patient's needs. His requirements for the position are the same as those of flight nurse Kim Loflin and even though each plays a specific role in patient care, they often help each with duties.

"We work as a team and have specific strengths but the requirements for a flight nurse are just as strict and detailed as those of a flight paramedic," Loflin said.

Besides the training that the staff has to have to meet the requirements for the position, continuing education classes are mandatory on a monthly and quarterly basis with competency evaluations completed quarterly.

"This is a serious business and what we do makes a difference in the lives of our patients so we are required to stay on top of procedures and protocol to ensure that the care our patients receive is top notch," Brooks said.

While the pilots for the program are not required to have the stringent medical background that the nurses and paramedics have, they also have their own set of requirements including a minimum of 2,000 hours of total flight time and 1,500 hours of helicopter flight time. They must pass a Class II flight physical and have a minimum of 100 hours of unaided night time flying experience.

"We all have very specific requirements that allow us to provide the best possible service to our patients but none of us can operate without the help of the other. It definitely is a team effort," said pilot Mike Smith.

Each has their own reasons for choosing the profession they are in but in the end, it all comes down to helping people when they need it most and providing a higher level of service.

"It definitely takes all types of people and personalities to do what we do, but overall a commitment to care is what is most important," Smith said.

Some aspects of the service that Air Evac Lifeteam provides to the community are unique, like the ability for the public to request their help without waiting for local medical personnel to make the request for service.

"We can be dispatched in numerous ways but our services can be engaged by a private citizen if they call the dispatch number, which is not traditionally how things are handled," Loflin said.

As well as being accessible to citizens, the service provides detailed medical history for their members and directions to their home which are kept on file.

"The great thing about being a member of the service is that once you fill out all the paperwork, we get GPS directions to your residence or the nearest available spot for us to sit the helicopter down if care is needed. As well as having a patient's medical history on file in our system, which can be accessed in any of the states we provide service in so that while we are en route to a call we can be looking ahead to see what types of measures we need to take regarding allergies, health conditions, etc," Brooks explained.

In keeping with the community-minded aspect of the company, Air Evac Lifeteam has been busy meeting the public at various community events, such as the recent St. John bazaar.

"We are extremely encouraged by the show of support from the community and have taken steps to show our support and give back to the city. We have partnered with St. John Catholic School to provide donations from membership fees that will go toward helping their revitalization campaign to ensure that the school is here for the future needs of the community. As part of the community, we feel it is our obligation to help when someone needs it and we are very excited about what the future holds for St. John. We intend to be part of the community for a long time and we appreciate the efforts of others that have made a difference in the community before us," said Michael Derfler, membership coordinator.

For more information regarding memberships with Air Evac Lifeteam, contact (800) 793-0010 or visit their Web site at www.lifeteam.net.

E-mail Candie at candie.adams@ennisjournal.com