"The only difference really is a different name will be on the side of the helicopter," Eskridge said. "They have hired the entire staff, and they will be leasing the hangar from us."
Eskridge said prior to opening MedStat Air two years ago, he served on several statewide committees working to provide faster and improved emergency services to heart attack and stroke patients. He said the state did a study and determined that in the area around the Highway 82/Interstate 55 corridor, patients with stroke and heart ailments could not reach an area trauma center within 90 minutes by ground, and air service was needed.
Eskridge said MedStat, the largest ground ambulance service in the state, decided to expand their services to include an air ambulance as well.
"There are bigger helicopter companies out there that had been looking at this area, and with just one helicopter, [MedStat Air] proved to be very inefficient," Eskridge said. "One problem, we had to rent all of our equipment."
Eskridge said Air Methods Corporation, the largest air ambulance company in the United States offered to come in and take over the air ambulance operation based at the Winona-Montgomery Municipal Airport.
"This is a top shelf company with over 300 aircrafts," Eskridge said. "They already operate programs in Tupelo and Hattiesburg."
Eskridge said the sale is finalized, and there will probably be a two-week transition where everything will be transferred and employees will be certified for Air Methods' equipment. Until the transition is complete, Eskridge said this area will rely on neighboring helicopter services for air ambulance service.
Air Methods Corporation is based out of Centennial Airport in Englewood, Colo., and has operations from Alaska to Key West, according to the company's website. They currently have 300 bases of operations that serve 48 states.