Blueprints for the new home of Lifeguard 12 at Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington show a spacious home for the helicopter. Crews surveyed and marked the land located just outside the ER Monday to prepare for Tuesday's groundbreaking.
Pilot Russ Rivers says once the building in finished it will allow for even faster response times.
"With this facility we will have the helicopter parked outside the hangar," Rivers said. "It cuts our time in half."
In addition to providing shelter for one of Carilion Clinic's three helicopters, the hanger will have sleeping quarters for the flight crew and an area for maintenance.
"Any maintenance we need to do can be done here on site in Lexington, as opposed to having to move the aircraft all the way to Roanoke," says Susan Smith, Lifeguard Program Director.
"We have to fly to Roanoke, which is a 24-minute flight, and then another 24-minute flight back," Rivers says. "It can be anywhere from two hours to five hours of out of service time."
Officials say one of the benefits of having Lifeguard 12 in a rural community is that it makes that emergency transport or trip to the hospital even faster for areas that don't have a trauma center.
When Lifeguard began back in 1981, Roanoke was the ideal location for Lifeguard 10 because it was central. But since moving 10 to Smith Mountain Lake and adding 11 in the New River Valley and 12 in Lexington, it creates a triangle. Crew members say that triangle strategically covers areas that need it.
The new hangar is expected to house Lifeguard 12 by October of this year.