Nationwide medical helicopter company Air Methods is considering establishing a base in Carroll. (Photo via Air Methods)
Nationwide medical helicopter company Air Methods is considering establishing a base in Carroll. (Photo via Air Methods)

June 27, 2019

A major medical helicopter company soon could have a base in Carroll.

Carroll’s Arthur N. Neu Airport continues to negotiate with the company, Air Methods, and its transition to Carroll could happen as early as next month, Carroll Airport Commission member Greg Siemann told the Carroll City Council this week.

“We think this is a good deal for Carroll,” Siemann said. “They’re going to come to Western Iowa. We’re their first choice, and the buck ought to stop there, because this is a good deal for our community. Air Methods is one of the leaders of the industry.”

The commission requested “seed money” from the city to get the base started but did not yet have details on how much money is needed or when it would be required.

Commission members told the council the company would need to make at least 200 flights a year out of Carroll to remain sustainable.

The company, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, has more than 4,500 employees — including pilots, clinicians, mechanics, air communications specialists and more — at more than 300 bases in 48 states, according to its website.

“In rural communities, that kind of reach of care is crucial,” the company’s website states. “Emergency air medical transport and treatment is often the only access to lifesaving emergency care they have — providing access to millions of people who otherwise would not have been able to make it to a trauma center.”

The company would bring high-paying jobs to the area, Siemann said.

“We feel it’s a win for Carroll, because none of these jobs are even average jobs,” Siemann said. “All of them are extremely high paying.”

He added, “Not only is this a good thing in terms of economic development for the area, it’s a great thing for our hospital, because the proximity of a medical helicopter will enhance the usability for our hospital as a regional hospital.”

Some employees would live at the airport to provide 24/7 service, with the goal of being in the air 10 to 15 minutes after a call is made.

“Jobs are one plus, but I think the plus (that) we can get a patient from this area to the hospital in a short period of time — there’s not a number you can put on that,” Councilman LaVern Dirkx said.

Carroll Airport Commission member Norm Hutcheson noted that the presence of the company in Carroll also could pave the way down the road for Des Moines Area Community College in Carroll to create a program to supply the company with employees.

More than 20 percent of Air Methods’ team members are U.S. veterans, active-duty military members or reserves members.

The company has a presence both in Des Moines and Omaha, Siemann said.

“We dedicate ourselves around the clock to maintain equipment and supplies, coordinate logistics and relentlessly provide the tools and expertise that allow us to give more tomorrows,” Air Methods’ website states.

The airport commission continues negotiations with the company, and its members said they will bring more information to the council as it is available.

“I think (Air Methods) will be here for a long time,” Carroll Airport Commission member Gene Vincent said. “In my conversations with them, I said, ‘If you don’t succeed in Carroll, good luck someplace (else).

The people in Carroll have always put their arms around a good project, and I feel this is one of those.”