ARCH Air Medical is celebrating an anniversary this year.
The air ambulance service got its start in the St. Louis area in 1979 and was the twelfth program to start in the United States.
”They got in the game pretty early,” said Mike Kennedy, business development manager with Air Methods, the parent company of ARCH Air Medical. “Today, there are several hundred programs across the United States. Since we got started as number 12, you can tell how early we got in the game.”
Public transportation with medical helicopters first began in 1966 with the Public Highway Act.
The name “ARCH” was not selected because of the familiar landmark in St. Louis.
Instead, it’s an acronym for “Area Rescue Consortium of Hospitals.”
The company began with the name “MARC” for “Medical Air Rescue Corps.”
In 2000, ARCH Air Medical was purchased by Air Methods – a company based out of Englewood, Colo.
Air Methods operates a fleet of more than 400 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft at nearly 300 bases serving 48 states.
ARCH Air Medical has been located at the Farmington Airport since June of 2008.
Kennedy said the crew at the Farmington location participates in a number of benefit events and provides training for local first responders.
There are 12 staff members at the Farmington location, and it is manned 24-hours a day
“ARCH has seven bases throughout Missouri and Illinois, with about 9,000 flights a year,” Kennedy said.
The crews perform hospital transfers – accounting for 80 percent of the flights.
The other 20 percent come from emergency calls- known as “scene flights.”
“(Air medical services) enhances your community’s health care service. Knowing the helicopter is located in your community is a huge deal,” Kennedy admitted.
Air Methods is also affiliated with the helicopter used for transport to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
ARCH Medical Services offers a program called “Lifeshield Alliance”- an insurance benefit provided through Air Methods for families.
LifeShield Alliance gives nationwide coverage in the event the consumer needs to be transported by air ambulance.
“They’ll receive a $10,000 insurance indemnity in the event they are transported. It doesn’t matter who you’re flown by or where you’re at in the United States,” Kennedy explained.
The plan covers all fifty states – something Kennedy feels is important since emergencies can happen at any time.
“The first place (Lifeshield Alliance) launched it was in Missouri and Illinois,” Kennedy said.
The policy is purchased through the website, www.lifeshieldalliance.com or by calling 855-896-9064.
“It’s incredible the way the flight volume has grown through the years,” Kennedy said. “But, it’s a necessity.”