Several years ago, Big Country Electric Cooperative joined forces with Air Evac Lifeteam to add the benefit of membership in their air ambulance service for employees and to offer it to co-op members. I thought it was a great benefit but never considered that my family might actually have to use it.
January 30, 2016, around 4:30 p.m., was when I got the call. I had just walked out of the gym where my daughter was playing basketball when my phone rang.
The voice on the other end of the line asked, “Are you on your way?”
“I think you have the wrong number,” I replied—it was a strange number, and the only place I planned to go was home. “You must have not gotten my message,” the man on the line said, giving his name. “I’m here with Frank. He’s alert and talking to us, but he’s been in a motorcycle accident. I’ve called 911 and an ambulance is on the way, but you need to head to Hendrick [Medical Center in Abilene].”
When I arrived at the hospital, Frank, my husband, looked bad. His left eye socket was fractured in several places; he had a skull fracture, punctured lung, some fractured lower vertebrae and a few broken ribs, along with bleeding and an air pocket on his brain. He also had a degloving injury on his left forearm, where the skin and muscle were basically shredded by the barbed wire fence he had gone through.
“What happened?” I asked. He remembered a truck swinging wide through the curve into his lane head-on, running him off the road. His motorcycle hit gravel and kept going—taking him through a pasture, between mesquite trees and across a dirt road. There was an old mattress that had been dumped in the ditch. Our first guardian angel that day was a litterbug: When Frank hit that mattress, it buffered him through a brand-new, six-strand barbed wire fence before he landed in brush and cactus. We would later find out that the son of close friends had built the fence and saw that mattress every day, saying to himself, “I need to throw that thing away.” Thank goodness he never actually did!
Our second guardian angel of the day—the man who called me—just happened to be driving down this dirt road and noticed that his fence was torn up. While he and his wife tried to figure out what happened, one of them noticed a shiny green motorcycle in the pasture and movement on the ground.
Doctors at Hendrick called for Air Evac Lifeteam. Frank was airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock. The pilot, nurse and flight paramedic introduced themselves and gave me a quick rundown of what to expect, even calling me during the flight to report on Frank’s condition and once again when they had turned his care over to the staff at UMC. Amazingly, the only surgery required was to repair the degloving injury on his arm, the rest of his injuries simply had to heal over time. Two years later, he is fully recovered.
AirMedCare Network providers work with your benefits provider to secure payment for your flight, with any uncovered amounts considered fully prepaid. As such, members transported by AirMedCare Network do not receive a bill for the flight.
This service has been described as “the best thing to happen on the worst day of your life,” and I have to agree. Their level of care—both inside the helicopter and throughout the claims process—is superior to anything I’ve experienced. When I called to report the claim, the customer service agent began with, “May I ask how your husband is doing?” That simple act of compassion was something I really appreciated. The process itself was simple—she emailed me a form to complete and return. It was one single page and took less than five minutes to complete. That was it.
Our medical insurance covered most of the air ambulance’s cost, and the remainder was covered under the terms of our membership. If it weren’t for that,
I shudder to think about how the overall medical costs would have affected us financially.
Here’s the message I want to share about the AirMedCare Network membership: It’s $5 per month, which can be paid yearly or as a monthly addition to your electric bill. I don’t know about you, but $5 is a snack at Sonic or a couple of packs of gum—things I could certainly do without anyway. Your entire household is covered—that includes kids away at college. Not only could this save your life or the life of someone you love by providing critical care, it could save you tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical expenses should a catastrophe occur.
Recently, Frank and I had the privilege to visit the Air Evac Lifeteam station in Abilene, to meet the pilot, Lt. James Wong, and one of the flight nurses, Cassie Cowan, who cared for Frank. Words can never express how grateful we are for their care and willingness to jump into action at a moment’s notice. Like other first responders, they spend time away from their families and homes to be prepared to take care of you and me—if and immediately when we need them.
You can’t put a price on peace of mind, but your $5 per month membership will cover the cost of AirMedCare Network flights, even if your insurance does not. Membership in this program can’t keep bad things from happening, but I can say when they get the call to take care of you or me, we are in great hands.
To read another personal story about the value of AirMedCare Network services, visit lifeteam.net/testimonial/in-the-blink-of-an-eye.