Survival Flight Emergency Air Transport Adds Base at WRMC

Gary Bebow with Survival Flight Pilot Laura Wood in front of helicopterShaine Keasler, Survival Flight Base Clinical Manager; Laura Wood, Survival Flight Pilot; and Karissa Jackson, Survival Flight Registered Nurse/EMT, stand in front of the newest Survival Flight helicopter at White River Medical Center.

When tragedy occurs, every second counts. Survival Flight Transport Services, an emergency helicopter transport service, recently opened Survival Flight 4, a base located in Batesville at White River Medical Center. This addition to the emergency care will improve access to life saving trauma care by decreasing or eliminating the time needed to bring an emergency helicopter to Batesville or the surrounding area.

Survival Flight 4, which is the first Survival Flight base in Arkansas, will keep a helicopter at White River Medical Center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will always be ready to serve critically ill patients. Shaine Keasler, Base Clinical Manager of Survival Flight 4, says the benefit to having the helicopter based here is twofold:  a patient can now be transported to a facility a couple of hours away in under 30 minutes or the helicopter can be dispatched to a remote location to bring a patient to WRMC. In the past, it has taken nearly 40 minutes for a helicopter to arrive at WRMC from another facility, according to Keasler.

“This helicopter, which is a Bell 407 model, is the fastest scene response aircraft being used in Arkansas for emergency transport,” says Keasler.

The Survival Flight 4 crew, which consists of pilots, registered nurses, and medics, will be housed in Batesville during their shift. “We require the Survival Flight crew to have a minimum of three years in their specialty.  Most of the crew on our team have anywhere from seven to more than twenty years of experience in emergency medical transportation,” said Keasler.

Pilots must have a minimum of 2500 flight hours. All of the RNs have certifications as Emergency Medical Technicians and most have Critical Care Certifications. Many of the paramedics have Flight Paramedic Certifications.

According to Keasler, a unique feature is the size of the interior of the helicopter. “We have the ability to allow an additional family member or friend to ride with their loved one, which is something unique to us. With a higher weight capability, weight restriction is less of a concern,” he said.

In addition to the qualified staff, the aircraft also holds top-of -the-line equipment such as a LifePort mobile stretcher system, which makes the ride more comfortable for the patient, and makes it easier and more efficient for the staff to provide care to the patient.

Survival Flight Transport Services has an exceptional safety record and is dedicated to maintaining it through rigorous staff training and meticulous maintenance of the helicopter.

“In a rural area such as ours, it’s important to have quick access to care, especially when critically ill or injured,” said Gary Bebow, CEO of White River Health System (WRHS). “Survival Flight Transport Services gives patients in critical condition the advantage of receiving care quickly, and we are excited to be able to offer this unique service to our patients.”

With a very large coverage area, the helicopter will be able to transport patients from any WRHS facility, and be able to assist patients at accident scenes even beyond the WRHS service area. In the very near future, a backup aircraft will be on hand to allow for extra coverage.

To find out more about Survival Flight, including membership plans, visit

To find out more about the services offered, or for questions regarding helicopter emergency transport services in your area, call Shaine Keasler at (870) 476-5825 or email