By Aaron Claverie
REACH Air Medical Services is hoping the old real estate maxim – location, location, location – helps it become the go-to air ambulance company for southwest Riverside County’s hospitals.
In April, the Santa Rosa-based company will be opening a base at French Valley Airport, its first in western Riverside County. It will include office space and crew quarters inside Hangar 51 and a dedicated parking spot for its Airbus EC-135 helicopter near the runway.
Matthew McLuckie, a former pilot who is the company spokesman, said the French Valley airport is about 10-15 minutes closer by air than the facility in Hemet, where Mercy Air, REACH’s main competition, has a base.
In touch-and-go situations, every minute counts, and McLuckie said hospitals generally call the service that is closer to make sure the patient is getting to the trauma center or children’s hospital, for instance, in the shortest amount of time.
The flight crew on a REACH helicopter includes a critical care nurse and a paramedic, or two nurses, and a pilot.