Eureka County Commissioners announced this week that a Federal Aviation Administration Global Positioning System Instrument Approach for the Eureka County Airport became effective on Aug. 23.
This project, funded through Eureka County and the FAA, will make medical lifesaving flights available to more critically ill and injured patients when weather conditions are less than ideal.
The new satellite navigation system and previously constructed Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) will enable all properly equipped aircraft and flight crews utilizing Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), to arrive and depart safely during inclement weather. This enhanced capability will increase medical flight providers’ ability to accept patient transport requests that would otherwise be declined.
Mining, combined with agriculture, tourism, recreational travel, and forty percent of the population over 55, result in accidents and illnesses requiring enhanced medical care, which this rural area of 1,500 people cannot locally support. The nearest major medical facility is a two hour ground ambulance ride and the nearest trauma center is a four to five hour ground ambulance ride depending on the needed care. Medical lifesaving flights significantly reduce transportation time.
Michael Sullivan, Eureka County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, said; “In the EMS field we talk about the importance of time after an injury or major illness. The faster we get the patient to higher care (a hospital or advanced EMS provider), hopefully within that first hour, can greatly increase the patient’s chance of survival. Aircrafts bring advanced equipment, medicines and personnel to the patient to begin treatment immediately. Recently, we were unable to get any aircraft into Eureka because of low visibility. This new instrument approach will allow us to safely transport patients by air when needed, thus saving lives”.
Eureka Airport’s new GPS instrument approach will allow properly equipped aircraft and flight crews to land and take off with a minimum cloud base (ceiling) of 420 feet above the ground and a visibility of one mile. The GPS approach is available to all aircraft arriving or departing the Eureka County Airport and is expected to enhance private and corporate flight operations in addition to medical lifesaving flights.