SHERIDAN — Sheridan Memorial Hospital recently partnered with Medical Air Rescue Company to provide air ambulance transportation for the medical center. The service started Jan. 9 and will use Sheridan as its base for the region.

SMH has offered air ambulance service, prior to this partnership, with Air Methods. But in late 2018, Air Methods ended the partnership.

“They made a determination that it wasn’t worth their while to be in Sheridan and decided to leave,” hospital CEO Mike McCafferty said. “We still believe the service is a valuable service and MARC Air has assured us that they are interested in being in Sheridan and have done the research necessary to make the determinations that this is a good move for them.”

MARC will base a King Air C90 fixed-wing airplane at the Sheridan County Airport to be used for SMH and other locations in the region.

“Sheridan wouldn’t necessarily be the benefactor of them going and getting people — other hospitals would — but then they would always come back to Sheridan as the base,” McCafferty said.

For example, if someone in Worland needed to be transferred to the Billings Clinic, MARC would travel from Sheridan to Worland to Billings and back to Sheridan.

“For them, this is a base of operations,” McCafferty said. “A base of operations that covers a two-hour flight radius, so it could be Worland or the Basin area, even Gillette.”

MARC is an independent company headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota, with satellite bases located throughout the region, according to an SMH press release. The company is fully staffed with highly-trained and experienced flight teams.

“We are pleased to enter into this relationship with MARC,” SMH Chief Operating Officer Nyle Morgan said. “It is an extremely important service for the Sheridan community so our patients will have access to the appropriate level care as fast as possible. The sooner a patient in critical condition can be transported to a facility with the appropriate level of care, the greater the likelihood that patient will have a positive outcome.”

Saving 45 minutes to an hour on the front end of an emergency situation makes a significant difference in critical care situations. The patient also will be flown to the medical facility of their choosing; SMH does not have any set locations for transporting patients.

McCafferty also mentioned the addition of a helicopter around March, which will sit on the helipad in front of the hospital. The Airbus H130 helicopter will allow for extremely fast transportation and the ability to maneuver in the mountains.

“They’ll be able to get onto the mountain and do high-altitude extractions and those types of things, which is really a nice benefit,” McCafferty said.

The helicopter will be the first for MARC as a company.