AKRON, Ohio Goodyear blimp, make way. There's another aircraft that now calls the skies over Greater Akron home.
University Hospitals Med-Evac recently relocated one of its two air medical transportation teams to Akron from Lorain County.
The new location primarily responds to calls in the southern part of MedEvac's service area: Summit, Stark, Portage, Wayne and Medina counties.
"We noticed that there was a need," said Kobie J. Brooks, business relations and development coordinator for MedEvac. "That's the whole purpose of the relocation -- getting closer to where the patients are generated from."
Another team continues to be based in Geauga County for the northern region of MedEvac's service area.
MedEvac is running the medical helicopter program out of rented space at Williams Aviation FBO, adjacent to Akron Fulton International Airport.
A pilot, nurse and medic are stationed in the new Akron location around the clock to respond to life-or-death situations throughout the region, Brooks said.
"We're there as mutual aid for the hospitals and fire departments," he said.
University Hospitals contracts with CJ Systems Aviation Group, based in the Pittsburgh area, to run the air medical transportation service.
CJ Systems operates airborne ambulances for more than 30 hospitals nationwide.
Brooks said the Akron-based helicopter is averaging three or four flights a day.
At least two other air medical transport businesses regularly respond to calls in the Akron-Canton area.
MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland has been running an air transport service known as Metro Life Flight in Northeast Ohio since 1982.
Metro Life Flight operates out of four regional bases, including one at Aultman Hospital in Canton, said Charlene Mancuso, MetroHealth's administrator for the division of Trauma, Burns, Critical Care and Metro Life Flight.
The Metro Life Flight helicopters serve as "airborne intensive-care units," staffed by two pilots, a doctor and a nurse, she said.
"Our mission profile is meant to be able to gain access to the most critically ill and then to be able to start stabilizing them as soon as we get them," Mancuso said.
The third company, MedFlight of Ohio, has a base at Akron General Health System's Lodi Community Hospital.
The majority of MedEvac's flights transport critically ill and injured patients from smaller community hospitals to bigger facilities for surgery and advanced procedures, Brooks said.
MedEvac also responds to serious accidents and other situations in which patients need complex medical care as quickly as possible.
MedEvac bills the patients' insurance companies for the transportation costs, Brooks said.