McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 29, 2013

New aircraft takes flight in McAlester

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — The only full-time staffed, medically-configured fixed-wing aircraft in the state of Oklahoma has arrived in McAlester, according to an EagleMed official.

The Beechcraft King Air C-90, a fixed-wing aircraft arrived at it’s new home at the McAlester Regional Airport earlier this month and it’s already been put to use, said Patrick Barkley regional program director for EagleMed.

“We had an incident where weather issues would not allow a helicopter to fly so we were able to use the aircraft to transport an injured man from Wilburton on Sunday morning.

He said a satellite dish worker was injured in Wilburton Sunday morning and the plane was used to fly him to Tulsa.

“EagleMed flew the aircraft out of McAlester Regional Airport and landed at the Wilburton Municipal Airport where the man was flown to Tulsa to be taken by ambulance to the hospital,” Barkley said.

The medically-configured aircraft as well as the EagleMed helicopter are  each staffed with a full-time paramedic, a registered nurse, and the pilot, he said.

Also the aircraft has advantages over the helicopter in certain situations, Barkley said. Such as allowing a passenger to fly along with a patient.

“It has the capability to allow a parent to fly with the child subject to the pilots approval,” Barkley said.

He said the pilot has take into consideration weight imbalance issues and the safety of the crew before allowing a passenger onboard.

 Another advantage, Barkley said is the plane has the capability to go faster, farther and fly in weather that a helicopter could not fly in, such as fog or low clouds.

“A helicopter will get you to a hospital twice as fast as driving and an airplane will get you there in one third the time as driving,” Barkley said.

And the aircraft has the capability fly much farther than the helicopter. “We have a 900 nautical mile range,” he said. That’s equal to a little over 1,000 miles.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.