Emergency helicopter transport service proposes county-wide memb - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Emergency helicopter transport service proposes county-wide membership

LifeNet transport currently only operates at Grand Strand Medical Center. (Source: WMBF News) LifeNet transport currently only operates at Grand Strand Medical Center. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Traffic is now influencing how people are taken to the hospital in an emergency. 

It may also change how much that transport bill costs patients. LifeNet, a helicopter transport company, presented at Tuesday's Horry County Public Safety meeting in order to spark the idea of a countywide helicopter emergency transport membership.

Anna McCollum, regional business manager for LifeNet, gave an example of an Horry County boy saved by helicopter transport after a recent car crash.  She said he was clinging to life as a helicopter transported him from Grand Strand Medical Center to a Charleston hospital. 

All LifeNet helicopters carry blood and plasma, and also severely cut travel times compared to ambulance. McCollum said the quick transport saved the boy's life, and the company wants to make it available to everyone in Horry County through a county-wide membership.

McCollum said with increasing traffic and decreasing emergency resources compared to needs, helicopter transports are saving lives. She explained LifeNet is a secondary response that comes at the request of EMS or the hospital.

She said either families can purchase memberships or the county can. The cost, according to McCollum, is very little compared to current ambulance fees the county incurs annually. 

McCollum said the county rakes in an annual $1 million bill for public transport expenses. She said with a membership, that bill will not exist in that capacity.

McCollum said LifeNet, a branch of AirMethods Advantage, is operating across the country. The helicopter service has served as an air transport for Grand Strand Medical Center since 2013. 

According to McCollum, if the county purchased a membership, anyone with emergency medical needs could be transported at no cost, aside from the recurring membership fee. The person only has to show proof of residency. 

"As a member, they never receive a bill for their transport," McCollum said. "So we bill their medical insurance if they have it, or automobile insurance, and whatever payment that is, we accept that as full payment. So the patient is not responsible for whatever is not covered by their insurance, or like i said, for the people that do not have insurance, we take that as a member."

Hampton and Barnwell counties are the only ones in South Carolina currently with a membership, according to McCollum. The company is in talks with a few more, including Horry County.

After the presentation, Horry County Councilman Al Allen asked to schedule a visit with LifeNet in the near future to explore membership options further.

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