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NM air ambulance relocation brings quicker access to patients

Native Air moves its helicopters to Carlsbad Medical Center, crews will carry 2 units of blood, plasma on board


Clint Burleson, regional air manager of Native Air, addresses community members and employees of Carlsbad Medical Center during a ceremony July 22, 2021. Nick Arledge, chief executive officer of Carlsbad Medical Center looks on.


Mike Smith
Carlsbad Current-Argus

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Patients needing advanced medical care in southeast New Mexico will now have the opportunity to receive rapid assistance as Native Air 29, a division of Air Methods, announced its helicopters would be stationed at Carlsbad Medical Center (CMC).

“It just ensures quicker access. We’re already there. We don’t have to respond from somewhere else. When the need for emergency care transport arises that’s just less time a patient has to wait for an air medical asset to arrive,” said Jim Burt, account executive for Air Methods.

The decision to move the base to Carlsbad Medical Center came after an extensive review of local needs, he said, and meetings between Air Methods and community and hospital leaders.

“It provides early access to high-quality care with highly trained clinicians,” Burt said.

Carlsbad Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Nick Arledge said the hospital’s emergency department cared for approximately 23,000 patients each year.

“As a Level III Trauma Center, CMC has the capability of caring for many of these traumas locally, but when a higher level of care is needed and time is of the essence, emergency air medical transport and treatment is often the only access to lifesaving emergency care - providing access to people who otherwise would not have been able to make it to a higher-level trauma center,” he said

Pilots, flight nurses, flight paramedics and mechanics are part of a three staff crew stationed at Carlsbad Medical Center, the release read.

Burt said the helicopters carried two units of blood and two units of plasma.

“In the case somebody is in need of that, we have that with us and it cuts down on transport time,” he said.

Burt said travel time by vehicle to a regional trauma center averaged nearly three hours. Air transportation was reduced to nearly 90 minutes.

Native Air crews are trained to provide trauma care after an accident and can administer clot-busting medications that must be given shortly after a major stroke to significantly improve outcomes, the release cited.

Native Air established operations in Carlsbad more than 20 years at the Cavern City Air Terminal with an airplane. Burt said the helicopter was in place since 2014.

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said Air Methods planned to keep its airplane operations at the Cavern City Air Medical Terminal and move the helicopter base to Carlsbad Medical Center.

“This could speed up emergency response by a few minutes, which is critical during lifesaving efforts. We’re happy to work with Native Air and Carlsbad Medical Center on emergency response and we appreciate their professionalism,” he said.


Dignitaries gather for a ribbon cutting on July 22, 2021 at Carlsbad Medical Center. Native Air moved its helicopter operations from Cavern City Air Terminal to the hospital.


Founded in 1980, Air Methods is based in Colorado, according to the company’s website.

“Native Air has been able to care for thousands of lives in the 23 years that they have been providing service to the Carlsbad area, and we’re pleased that Native Air 29 will now be based right here at Carlsbad Medical Center. This new base location will continue to ensure residents in our area will have access to air medical services, resulting in quicker response times for emergent and trauma situations,” Arledge said