EagleMed flies 15 King Airs and 15 AStars for far-ranging EMS ops
With 29 bases in 10 states, use of turboprops and helos allows diverse capability in safe patient transfer.
By Jim Gregory
EagleMed performs critical-care inter-facility and emergency air medical transports.
Most medical air transport companies focus on either fixed-wing or helicopter ops. But EagleMed at ICT, operates a fleet of 30 critical care aircraft, evenly split between 15 fixed-wing Beech King Airs and 15 Eurocopter AS350 AStar medevac helo ambulances.
Collectively the fleet flies more than 5000 patients annually, 2/3rds of the flights in helicopters and the remainder in King Airs. Fleet selection decisions were made well before the company's current leadership, but they support the earlier choices.
"The Eurocopter AStar is an ideal platform for the work that we do. It's compact, very reliable, and provides cabin space for our clinicians to do their work," says EagleMed Ops Dir Andy Faletto.
He served as an Army infantry officer flying Bell UH1 Hueys during the Vietnam War for the famed 101st Airborne and for the 1st Aviation Brigade. Since his combat flying tour he has compiled more than 7500 hrs in helicopters.
Faletto also supports the decision to standardize the fixed-wing fleet with the ubiquitous Beech turboprop. "The King Air is a very rugged, reliable, dependable pilot's airplane. It's ideal for the work we do in terms of cabin dimension and space for our medical team members to provide patient care," says Faletto.
Having TPs as well as helos fleet gives EagleMed expertise to seek new business opportunities in areas where the 150 nm maximum critical care mission range of the Eurocopter works best or in areas where the King Air's range meets the need for 450 to 500 nm critical care flights.
EagleMed has added 7 locations in the past 2 yrs and now flies life-saving missions from 29 bases in 10 states. From its Wichita headquarters, it services rural areas in KS, OK, NE, MO and TX. It also ranges to WY, AK, KY and NC.
Steeped in safety culture
Ops Dir Andy Faletto (L) reviews safety-training schedule for flight and maintenance crews with Pres Larry Bugg.
EagleMed Pres Larry Bugg is immersed in the culture of safety. His previous position was with another air medical transport provider where he served as vp of flight ops & safety. Active in the air medical industry, Bugg is vice chairman for the Air Medical Operators Assn Safety Committee and is secretary for the Air Medical Safety Advisory Council.
He's on the faculty at the AAMS Safety Management Training Academy and a member of the Opportunities for Safety Improvement in the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Research Group.
Before entering the medical air transport industry, Bugg served first as an enlisted Army helicopter mechanic and later flew helicopters as a warrant officer, retiring at the top of his career path as a Chief Warrant, 5 after 29 yrs. He has about 3000 helo flight hrs in Hueys and Black Hawks, including time flying medevac missions in the Persian Gulf War.
As an Army safety professional, master aviator/instructor pilot, accident investigator and av ops mgr, he culminated his military career at the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center as the deputy director and academic instructor for Safety and Occupational Healthand Accident Investigation training programs.
He also trained at Embry-Riddle receiving a master's in aviation business admin and a master in industrial technology and safety management from Texas A&M.
EagleMed leadership team
Chief Pilot Russell Schaub oversees turbine and helo flightcrews. Overall they average 5000 flight hrs per yr.
"I'm proud of the team that has come together here under my leadership at EagleMed. From an aviation perspective and a safety standpoint, the leaders of ops, mx, safety, flight and myself have approximately 150 yrs of aviation and safety experience, including Part 121," Bugg says.
"Where you're able to go to a patient who is in need, at the scene, with a helicopter and then have the reach of a fixed-wing transport where you can take a patient who requires a significantly higher level of care to anywhere in the US is a differentiator for our company."
EagleMed is voluntarily accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS). The level of experience for company pilots and exceeds the industry standard. "We want to attract and retain the highest-level and the highest-quality aviators and maintenance technicians that we can," Bugg says. "That begins the conversation. Then, from a culture standpoint, they have to be a good fit, focused on our values, especially safety."
There are 120 pilot slots
Mgr Brenda Shoemaker runs new state-of-the-art EagleMed comm center.
EagleMed Chief Pilot Russell Schaub is authorized 60 VFR helicopter pilots, 60 IMC King Air pilots, and several regional aviation managers for the 24/7 critical care operation. With its recent expansions, EagleMed is seeking a few helicopter pilots, but a recent King Air pilot hire filled the fixed-wing roster.
New helicopter pilots are required to have 2000 hrs with 1500 PIC and 500 hrs of turbine engine experience and 100 hrs of night time. Fixed-wing pilots must have an ATP, Part 135 EMS, 2000 hrs of PIC including 500 hs of turbine time and 100 hours of night time. Previous Part 135 flying experience is preferred for both categories. Average flight time for both categories of EagleMed pilots is 5000 hrs.