Life Flight helipad goes in at Pocola

Work is underway to prepare the new site for the Tulsa Life Flight helicopter base behind the Pocola Police Department. / photo by Katelyn Howard
Katelyn Howard
News Intern

Life Flight relocated its air ambulance helicopter base and landing pad from Poteau to Pocola due to adverse weather conditions, according to Tulsa Life Flight Area Manager Teresa Snell.

Construction for the new location began April 15 behind the Pocola Police Department and is expected to be finished July 10. Poteau had a Life Flight helicopter landing pad at the Robert S. Kerr Airport, but its operation ended in November of last year because the valley fog created unsafe flying conditions.

Life Flight offers transit for ill or critically injured patients to hospitals within a 175-mile radius or larger, if needed, and has traveled to hospitals in cities as far as Dallas, Springfield, Mo., Little Rock, Ark., and more.

Thirteen crew members have been hired for the new location from around the county, including four pilots, four nurses, four paramedics, and one mechanic, according to Snell.

Three of the 13 crew members will be on duty at a time. Pilots have had six weeks of prior Life Flight training while the medical staff has had six to eight weeks of Life Flight training. One week of the training took place in Denver, Colo.

The City of Pocola does not have to pay any costs for the Life Flight base since the company leases the land from the town and is a privately owned business, according to Pocola City Clerk-Treasurer John Limbocker. Life Flight has been in the process of moving from Poteau to Pocola for about a year and site research was conducted before the decision was made.

“We are very grateful to bring Life Flight to Pocola,” said Limbocker. “Not just for our town, but for the county.”