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      Air ambulance takes wing

      When minutes matter, they're already there.

      Valley Med Flight is the only fixed-wing air ambulance in the Upper Peninsula. Flight medics are on-call 24/7 to offer medical assistance and transportation to patients in critical need.

      â??Once we get a call, we call our pilot to make sure the weather's okay to fly,â?? explained Flight Nurse Rich Laksonen, â??and then we load all of our equipment into the plane and take off."

      By using an airplane to transport, Valley Med Flight drastically reduces the time it takes to bring a patient to a higher level of care.

      â??With this particular aircraft, it's faster and safer,â?? explained Board Manager Andy Hay, â??and it's about one-third of the cost of a helicopter and twice as fast."

      In rural communities, it's harder to access Level One hospitals, but this is where Valley Med Flight takes wing.

      â??We started October first,â?? Hay explained, â??and we've had roughly 203 to 205 flights out of this base alone."

      â??We can fly in just about anything,â?? Laksonen said. â??We can fly into known icy conditions. The plane travels a lot quicker than the helicopter does and, of course, there is a lot more room for us to do our work as well.â??

      So now when minutes matter, you can look to the skies and see that they're already there.