By Joe Beck
The AirCare 4 medical evacuation flight crews at Front Royal-Warren County Airport said goodbye earlier this month to one helicopter, and now are taking to the sky in another.
The copter crews are now flying is a Bell 407 model, a more powerful and slightly faster aircraft than the EC135 they had been using.
Glenn Deaton, a spokesman with Phoenix-based PHI Air Medical, said the decision to move the Bell 407 from a base in Fredericksburg to Front Royal was purely a business development decision to "move aircraft around and support contracts in our company."
PHI Air Medical is the parent company of AirCare 4 and other medical evacuation helicopters stationed throughout the country.
Deaton said the previous helicopter was one of those put under contract and stationed somewhere in Texas.
He described the Bell 407 as "a little faster than the one we've had, so the response time will be a little bit quicker."
Brian D. Katcher, a paramedic flight crew member stationed in Front Royal, said the new aircraft also has more lift than the previous one.
"As far as power lift, it does make a difference in the size of the patient we can take," he said, adding that the amount and types of equipment being carried on board also determine the exact capacity.
Katcher said Friday he had been airborne six or seven times in the Bell 407, including once on Friday to aid a stroke victim. The aircraft has performed satisfactorily each time, he said, adding that the aircraft's interior is slightly smaller but its overall size longer than the helicopter it replaced.
"It's exciting to have a new piece of equipment and put it to use here," Katcher said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org