COVINGTON - Air Methods Corporation, the largest air medical transportation company in the world, has relocated its Covington base to Conyers.
Previously located at Covington Municipal Airport, as of Sunday, the base has been moved to Culpepper Drive in Conyers, adjacent to National EMS.
In February, Air Methods purchased competitor Omniflight Inc.'s Rescue Air 1 operations in north Georgia and Atlanta, including the Covington base.
Air Methods already had a base in Conyers, but shut it down along with several others, reducing total bases between the two companies from 11 to six.
However, the Covington base does not provide adequate quarters for Air Methods crews, and an upgrade or relocation within Newton County would prove too costly, said Area Business Manager Chad Black.
The old base, located 8 miles away in Conyers, already had a fuel center and adequate quarters, he said.
"The decision was made on the corporate level to move to Conyers. The best lodging and facilities for our crew was back in Conyers. That's a four-minute difference in flight time (to Newton County). We told Newton County emergency services ... the citizens will still get the service that they had," Black said.
Air Methods' accreditation agency stipulates that it meet certain requirements in its facilities, including a kitchen and laundry, Black said. Crew members work 24 hours followed by 72 hours off, he said.
The upcoming temporary closure of Covington Municipal Airport for runway rehabilitation and other upgrades was not a factor in the decision to relocate, he said.
Air Methods assists local emergency responders, transporting patients to trauma, heart and stroke centers and pediatric hospitals in the Atlanta area.
It serves about a dozen counties in a 150-mile radius, covering the Interstate 20 corridor from DeKalb to Greene counties.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.