Rush Health Systems welcomes new medical helicopter to Meridian

Bill Graham / The Meridian Star 

Jeremy Pogue, a flight paramedic with PHI Air Medical, speaks with Dr. Minh Pham, a resident with Rush Health Systems, prior to the announcement of a partnership between the two organizations on Monday. The partnership involves an EC-135 helicopter, which will expedite medical care for local patients.


Rush Health Systems and PHI Air Medical announced a new partnership Monday to provide life-saving care to patients in East Mississippi and West Alabama via helicopter. 

Representatives from both organizations and community leaders celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Meridian. 

The new EC-135 helicopter will be based in Key Field and will typically have a crew of a pilot, nurse and paramedic, according to Sam Marshall, business operations manager for PHI Air Medical. 

“We’re basically a flying ICU,” he said. “There’s a lot of areas that don’t have specialized critical care equipment or maybe certain medications and so we have our aircraft equipped with that critical care monitors and equipment, so we can go out in remote communities and basically bring an ICU to them.”

The relationship will allow collaborative training, Marshall said. 

“We’ll be able to work with their anesthesia (team) for advanced airway procedures and respiratory therapy to help our guys and then our guys can bring some of their knowledge to the hospital as well to help train in some critical care aspects of medicine.”

While medical airlift has been available for Rush patients, the partnership is a first for Rush, said Larkin Kennedy, president and CEO of Rush Health Systems.  

“Patients that need to come from East Mississippi and West Alabama to Rush will now be able to use the PHI helicopter to get here and likewise if they need to get here to a higher level of care, they can do that as well,” Kennedy said. “It’s just another way to provide better healthcare to our patients.”

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