Clay County is preparing to officially welcome Air Evac to the area, and officials couldn't be happier.
Mike Knust, President of the Clay County Board of Aviation, was busy preparing a crew trailer for the helicopter ambulance company when The Times called him last week. He said that all the hard work has paid off, and nearly everything is ready for its arrival.
"We have the crew quarters set up," he said. "We'll be starting work on the hangar on Monday of next week."
Knust said that Air Evac is paying for almost the entire set-up, including leasing airport ground at $1 for 20 years. A company to work on the hangar has been named, but Knust couldn't remember its name.
"All we did is sent Air Evac bills and figures," he said. "It was kind of hard to track down a company that could come here right this second and start working."
As far as other work goes, Knust said everything is coming along nicely. Cinergy needs to be contacted about supplying electricity to the company's ground, and water and sewer lines need to be put in their proper position.
Though the work has been hard, Knust said that it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
"It's completely a win-win situation," he said. "I mean, they're supplying almost all of the costs, and we're going to get an air ambulance service at no cost to the taxpayers."
The company, which is speculated to bolster both Clay County's airport and health services, is well-received among county officials, even ones who won't be doing much work with them.
St. Vincent Clay Administrator Jerry Laue said that he's had some talks with the company.
"The intent is probably not to fly people to St. Vincent Clay," Laue said. "There are several air companies, though, and these are definitely one option. Any time we can upgrade the ambulance service in the healthcare arena... anything that will benefit Clay County citizens is a good thing, definitely."
Many Air Evac patients will be flown directly to Indianapolis, which is only 18 minutes from Brazil via helicopter.
Emergency Management Director Gerri Husband said that she, too, looks forward to working with Air Evac.
"I'll certainly invite them to our planning meetings," she said. "They'd be an important part of any incident in town. The fact that they can get to a scene in a matter of minutes and help the most severely injured patients out quickly is great."
Knust said that the installation he's also looking forward to the boost Air Evac will give the airport.
"The airport's never been really popular," he said. "But it does more than people realize. We have direct business landings here all the time. People can relate to Air Evac being here... it will become a little more noticeable."