Jackson County Could Lose SouthFlite

In his 32 years as a firefighter, Chief Jimmy Harris knows how valuable air ambulance services can be, especially in rural areas.

"It's not going to affect the people who live in Moss Point that much, but the people north of here, the farther you get away from the hospital, the more valuable that service is," Moss Point-Escatawpa Fire Chief Jimmy Harris said.

"And I have seen a couple of times where it was very important to get that person from the scene and to the hospital as quick as possible."

That's why Harris hopes SouthFlite will decide not to discontinue its services to this area.

"In cases of fire when somebody is burned, every minute helps that patient. So the faster you can get them to that care facility, the better the situation," Harris said.

Officials with Singing River Hospital say even if SouthFlite decides to close its doors, they still have other options to transport patients quickly.

"This area does have a real good highway artery system to the point that most cases brought to all area hospitals, ground ambulances are the appropriate means," Singing River Hospital Systems Communications Director Richard Lucas said.

Other means of airlifting patients are also available.

"Acadian, which is our primary ambulance service, has quite a good air ambulance service," Lucas said. "We also deal with the Coast Guard, Oshners."

Chief Harris argues that sometimes these services can't get there in time. That's why he thinks SouthFlite is a necessity.

"It's far and few between when you need those, but whenever you need them, you need them," Harris said.

USA Hospital said it's open to any ideas from the community on how to keep the service in flight.

by Claire Nelson