Ballad making major change to air ambulance services

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The region’s largest health care system is making a major change regarding air ambulance services. 

Ballad Health has picked a single company to provide such services, selecting Med-Trans, locally known as Wings Air Rescue.

Ballad currently works with three air ambulance organizations: Med-Trans (Wings Air Rescue), PHI Air Medical, and Virginia State Police. Med-Trans and PHI are commercial enterprises.

Ballad’s relationship with VSP’s Med Flight program will remain unchanged.

Ballad selected Med-Trans after proposals from both Med-Trans and PHI were evaluated by third-party consultant Fitch and Associates. 

According to Ballad, there will be no disruption to current air ambulance services. 

“Med-Trans will continue to operate four full-time bases in Elizabethton, Greeneville, Jenkins and Marion, plus a base at Bristol Motor Speedway, which will be active during race events,” Ballad states in a document explaining the air medical changes. “VSP Med Flight will continue to maintain its base in Abingdon.”

The health system also says it doesn’t anticipate any loss of jobs. 

Under its contract with PHI, Ballad employs the nurses and mechanics while PHI owns the helicopters and employs the pilots and mechanics. PHI employees will be given the option to work for Med-Trans or relocate to another PHI location. 

Air medical team members who work for Ballad will have the option of transitioning to Med-Trans and keeping their current position or transferring to another job within Ballad. 

Current Med-Trans employees, which includes flight nurses, paramedics, pilots, and mechanics, will not be affected, according to Ballad. 

The transition also means a new name for air medical services. 

“Med-Trans, working with Ballad Health, will create a new name and branding for its regional helicopter service, retiring both the Ballad One and Wings Air Rescue brands,” the health system said. “The new name and branding will be announced later in the year.”

Ballad says the transition should be complete by June 28.

Click here to view a FAQ from Ballad Health regarding the air medical changes.

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