- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - The University of Mississippi Medical Center says its three helicopters are more than aerial ambulances - they’re mobile emergency rooms.

The AirCare choppers have equipment and drugs not available in many rural hospitals, Sam Marshall, operations manager for helicopter transport at the new helicopter base in Columbus and an older one in Meridian, told The Commercial Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1ToluVN ).

“Everything that our emergency center … can do, our guys can do,” he said.

He said the crews include a critical care nurse, a critical care paramedic, and professionals trained specifically in performing procedures and administering drugs in a helicopter.

He spoke with the paper at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week at Airbus Helicopters, which built all three AirCare helicopters. AirCare 3 has been in service since April 1.

The hospital’s third helicopter is based at its main campus in Jackson.

People who cut the ribbon included 11-year-old Abby Williams of Mathiston, who was flown to Jackson by the Meridian-based helicopter in December, when she began having seizures. Doctors believe the seizures were a side effect of earlier surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Her mother, Melinda Williams, praised the helicopter for being able to fly in bad weather and the crew for helping her daughter.

“The crew is amazing,” she said. “Not only are they knowledgeable and take care of the patients, but they take care of the families, too.”

The treatment compartment is behind the passenger seats, but Marshall told her what was happening, according to a news release from UMMC.

“I couldn’t see her, but Sam told me everything he was doing,” it quoted her as saying.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, https://www.cdispatch.com

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