CHI St. Joseph Health, Air Med 12 debut new helicopter

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - If you haven't seen it already, you may soon spot the new medical helicopter flying across the Brazos Valley.

CHI St. Joseph Health and PHI Air Medical/Air Med 12 have upgraded the aircraft they use to help care for and transport people in critical condition.

"When we saw this blue helicopter come out of the sky, we were extremely excited," said Billy Rice, Air Med 12 Supervisor.

It's not just the paint job that's different on the twin-engine Airbus H135 EC-135P2+ helicopter.

CHI St. Joseph Health officials say it has features designed to control engine performance, improve flight stability while reducing noise and improve pilot awareness and visibility.

"This aircraft will also give us the ability in about six months to be able to accept flights in what we would consider IFR weather conditions that today we have to turn down," said Rice.

Rice says staying grounded is frustrating when he and his team are trying to save lives. In this growing community, he says the Air Med 12 crew gets called once or twice a day to make those vital trips across the Brazos Valley.

"We're able to aim blood product and perform life-saving surgical interventions. Any of those types of things that we need to do, we can in this aircraft, no problem," said Rice.

The larger cabin and fully-integrated stretcher will help the medical team work faster and more efficiently. It's something they appreciate as they fulfill their mission to care for others.

"I also think it adds something that the next flight that you go on is probably someone you know. It's a smaller town, smaller community. We run into that all the time where the patient is the brother, the son or the nephew of someone you know. Everybody's connected."

The Air Med 12 pilots and medical crew continue doing some specialized training to use the new aircraft but Rice says it could be in service in the coming days.