In the late 1970's, Baptist Hospital in Pensacola established Baptist Life Flight. At the time it was the only air-ambulance service operating in the state of Florida and only the third established in the United States. Now, after more than 35 years, Baptist Life Flight has been sold to a Colorado based firm called Air Methods.
Baptist Life Flight has four bases of operation in the region. In addition to the Pensacola base at Baptist Hospital, there are locations in Semmes and Greenville, Alabama and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Each operates with an EC130 helicopter. Before the sale, Air Methods staffed each location with five employees, including four pilots and one mechanic per base. As part of the acquisition, 43 clinical Baptist employees will become Air Methods employees. Candy McGuire, the Corporate Director of Marketing at Baptist Health Care says nothing else will change. Services will remain the same at all four locations.
McGuire also says the sale will allow both Air Methods and Baptist Health Care to do what they do best. Air Methods' core business is operating air ambulance services while Baptist Health Care's is...health care. And the trend of a hospital concentrating on its core services is spreading across the country. Marty Arkus, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Air Medical Services, the industry's trade organization headquartered near Washington, DC, says it's not unusual to see a hospital group sell off its air ambulance division to a company that specializes in that business.
The Denver based Air Methods is the country's largest operator of air ambulance services. The terms of the sale, which is effective immediately, have not been announced.