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Medical Air Rescue Group plans base at local airport

The South Alabama Regional Airport Authority on Tuesday approved a lease agreement with Medical Air Rescue Company, which plans to locate an air medical transport service at the airport. The service should be operational in the next few months.

Medical Air Rescue Company (MARC) is based in Rapid City, South Dakota, but services South Dakota, Nebraska, and Texas with satellite bases located in Valentine, Nebraska, and McKinney, Texas. The new base at SARA will be the company’s first in the South. The company combines air transportation (through Dale Aviation) and medical staff under a single management organization to allow for careful control of the entire air ambulance transportation process.

The company’s director of medical operations, Ken Maraman, is a native of this area.

“Medical Air Rescue Company is extremely proud to enter partnerships with Andalusia Health and Mizell Memorial hospitals for fixed wing air medical transport,” Maraman said. “Our mission is to serve our communities with friendly, efficient, and trustworthy air medical care, and we have been dedicated to that mission for almost 40 years.”

MARC will keep at least one King Air C-90 at its local facilities and expects to initially employ eight to 10 people here. In previous meetings with local leaders, Maraman explained that fixed wing air ambulance transportation is “like a flying intensive care unit.”

The City of Andalusia, SARA and Covington County Economic Development Commission have been working with MARC since late December.

“We are delighted that this service will become a reality for local residents,” Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said. “There were a whole lot of pieces that had to come together for MARC to agree to come here, and we

appreciate everyone who worked through the details. You like to think that you will never need the services of an air ambulance, but it is comforting to know that if you do, our residents will have access to fast, safe service and high-quality care.

“In our meetings with Ken Maraman, company owner Steve Dale, and director of operations Dustin Hunsaker, we have been impressed with their standards, which set them apart from other companies,” Johnson said. “We also appreciate the leadership of Andalusia Health and Mizell Memorial Hospital for working with us on this project. This will be another great asset for our community.”

Mayor Johnson also expressed his appreciation to Opp Mayor Becky Bracke for her help in working with Mizell Memorial Hospital.

Covington County Economic Development Commission President Rick Clifton said the services that will be provided by MARC will help set Covington County apart from other rural communities.

“We are happy to land MARC for our community,” Clifton said. “Their decision to locate here is truly a win-win. This service will provide air rescue options for our hospitals, which really means options for better access to specialized health care for local residents. The company also will be a boost to our South Alabama Regional Airport with hangar improvements and increased fuel sales and flights. The operation will also provide employment opportunities.”

Opp Mayor Becky Bracke said, “MARC provides our hospital and residents with air medical services which have not been available in our area. I have stood on the sidelines waiting for air transport before and know that this could literally be a difference in life or death. I am so proud that we will have this additional service in our communities.”

Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White said, “I’m very pleased with the success of this project, and the jobs it will offer our folks in Covington County. More importantly, this will bring enhanced medical services closer to our communities. I appreciate the good work of Covington County Economic Development Commission and the South Alabama Regional Airport, and I congratulate them on the success of their efforts.”

Maraman expressed his appreciation to local leaders who have worked with MARC on the project and said, “We are working with your community leaders to move this from ‘an idea to a reality.’ Our goal is to have this product operational in the coming months.”

Under the agreement approved Tuesday, the company will lease a nose-dock hangar at South Alabama Regional Airport, which it will upgrade to meet its business needs. The costs of improvement will be discounted from the company’s lease. The company will keep at least one aircraft at SARA, and will purchase fuel locally when possible.