Enterprise Rescue, PHI Air Medical opens airbase at South Alabama Regional Airport

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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PHI Air Medical and Enterprise Rescue officially opened a new operations center at the South Alabama Regional Airport with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.

Officials with the two companies — along with airport and elected officials — were on hand during the ceremony to celebrate the opening of the airbase, which is expected to provide faster response times for life-flight situations as well as faster trips to health facilities in larger cities like Pensacola and Birmingham.

The new base is equipped with a Bell 407 helicopter and PHI pilots and mechanics. Enterprise Rescue will oversee the clinical staffing of nurses and paramedics. The SARA airbase marks the two companies’ second base, building upon their existing service in Enterprise.

“This is the next chapter of Enterprise Rescue’s history,” said Enterprise Rescue Operations Manager Arnold Woodham. “We are all about service and taking care of people. We cannot thank (SARA Director) Jedd Blackwell enough. Since we met Mayor (Earl) Johnson and Mayor (Becky) Bracke and Commissioner (Greg) White, their attitude has been, what can we do to help you. That’s the attitude of Enterprise Rescue, so we knew then that this was going to be a great partnership.”

“PHI and Enterprise Rescue have the same mindset and mission; it’s all about patient outcomes for us,” said Sam Marshall, Central Region Program Director for PHI Air Medical. “At PHI, we are celebrating our 75th anniversary and safety has always been the top priority. This collaboration with Enterprise Rescue underscores our unwavering dedication to excellence. We are looking forward to seeing the future success of this partnership and to further expanding our impact in moving communities to health.”

Making the project a reality required the attention of multiple organizations, including the SARA Board of Directors, the Covington County Economic Development Commission, officials from Andalusia and Opp, as well as the Covington County Commission.

“We set the bar here at South Alabama Regional Airport for general aviation in the State of Alabama,” Blackwell said. “Today’s announcement is just the latest step in that direction. When I first learned of Enterprise Rescue, I knew we were working with a first-class company and that it was an organization we would want to bring to our community. Everyone began working together to do what needed to be done to make it happen.”

CCEDC Vice President Jacob Morgan said having life-flight service based at the local airport is just the latest service that makes Covington County unique.

“We are very proud to have Enterprise Rescue and PHI Health here in Covington County. This is just the latest in the unique services that are provided in Covington County and at our airport. These helicopters could be the difference between life and death so to have them here as part of our community is a blessing to all of our communities. Of all the places they could have located, we are thankful that chose to be part of our family here in Covington County,” Morgan said.

Covington County Commission Chair Greg White said the addition of local life-flight services is a welcomed addition to the county’s healthcare services.

“It is a privilege to represent the County Commission and all of our citizens to tell you how thrilled we are and to welcome Enterprise Rescue and PHI Health to our community,” White said. “Too often we take our medical community for granted. We are blessed to be served by Mizell Memorial Hospital, Andalusia Regional Health, many general practitioners and specialists, cancer treatment facilities, dialysis centers, nursing homes, the list goes on and on. And now we are adding 24-7 life-flight services. This is a blessing for all of us.”

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said the addition of the new airbase will result in faster response times and getting patients to their destinations quicker.

“On behalf of the Andalusia City Council and the city’s residents, I am pleased to welcome Enterprise Rescue and PHI Health to the South Alabama Regional Airport. If you have a medical emergency in Andalusia or Covington County, this will make it easier to receive medical help in Dothan, Montgomery, Mobile, Pensacola … where ever you may need to go for specialized help. The sooner you get there the sooner the chances of surviving the situation. I’m very happy that if any of us find ourselves in a situation where we need these services, Enterprise Rescue and PHI Health are here to take care of us,” Johnson said.

Opp Mayor Becky Bracke added that the services provided by Enterprise Rescue and PHI Health will provide another important component to the quality of life for local residents, and potential business and industry.

“All of us are aware of how important healthcare is to promote our cities to businesses and professionals. We have our hospitals, but this sets our cities and county apart from other rural communities. This adds a vital component to quality healthcare that we all know is so important. Thank you for investing in our community and choosing South Alabama Regional Airport,” Bracke said.

Following the ceremony, a ribbon cutting was held organized jointly by the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce and and Opp-Covington County Chamber of Commerce. Representing the Andalusia chamber was Executive Director Mellisa King and Director of Membership Services Maggie Holmes. The Opp chamber was represented by Executive Director Joni Lolley and Danielle Poore.

PHI Air Medical is the leading air ambulance provider across the country, providing air medical services and outreach education to local communities and leading healthcare systems. It operates out of more than 70 bases across the United States. For more information visit www.phiairmedical.com.

Enterprise Rescue began service in 1963 with a single 1955 Cadillac hearse. Over time, Enterprise Rescue grew into a professional organization of volunteers. In July 1997, it transitioned to a paid Advanced Life Support Non-Profit Service, offering 24/7/365 around-the-clock service. Today Enterprise answers over 12,000 ambulance calls annually, with paramedics, EMTs, critical care paramedics and advanced EMTs. For more information about Enterprise Rescue visit enterpriserescue.com.