ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.-- In a field where every second counts, St. Johns County just got a tool to save more lives with a brand new medical helicopter.
Instead of trauma flights leaving from Shands Jacksonville, now three new helicopters will be taking off from St. Augustine at Flagler Hospital, Yulee and Lake City, surrounding our area with a flying safety net.
Action News has learned the move will cut travel time in half for those in need of critical care in St. Johns County.
"Ten to 15 minutes may make the difference between someone surviving or not surviving," said Guillermo Pierluisi, Flagler Hospital's vice president of emergency medical services.
The move came after Shands Trauma flight services found that most patients in need of air transportation came from outside the I-295 beltway. They say traumas inside Jacksonville borders are better reached by ambulance.
"We wanted to reach the areas that were outside the 295 beltways where our patient population was," said Chad McIntyre, manager of trauma flight services for Shands Jacksonville.
But without a helicopter at Shands anymore, should people in Jacksonville be concerned? McIntyre says no.
"Here in Jacksonville there was no benefit. If you're at 8th and Main, for example, there's no benefit for a helicopter to come get you because you are right down the street from the hospital."