Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has added a third helicopter to transport critically ill patients to the medical center.
AirCare 3 is based at Blue Ridge Airport near Martinsville, Va., and covers the communities northeast of Winston-Salem.
"We can save as much as 15 minutes in response time in this area by having an air ambulance based in Martinsville, and every minute counts in emergency situations," said Maureen Sintich, the chief nursing officer for Wake Forest Baptist.
Wake Forest Baptist has been serving southern and Southwest Virginia since the air ambulance program began in 1986. Since then, about 15,000 patients have been airlifted to the medical center from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and South Carolina.
AirCare 2 is based at the Elkin Municipal Airport and covers communities northwest of Winston-Salem, including Southwest Virginia. AirCare 1 is based at the Davidson County Airport in Lexington and covers the area south of Winston-Salem.
The helicopters serve an area within a 150-mile radius of Winston-Salem.
"They actually are flying intensive-care units equipped with sophisticated life-support and patient-care equipment," Sintich said.