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CareFlite site a boon to area

CareFlite has arrived at Denton Enterprise Airport, which we believe is good news not only for the local economy and the airport business community but also for potential clients of CareFlite.

The nonprofit ground and air ambulance service officially opened its new operations base at the airport Wednesday, and officials said about 20 jobs have been added because of the facility.

Many in attendance for Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the company’s new site agreed that Denton is an ideal location to house an emergency operations base.

“We have big advantages being housed here,” said Jim Swartz, CareFlite president and CEO. “Our response — from time of call to when we are in the air — is four minutes, as opposed to 10 minutes when we aren’t located directly to a helipad.”

Three or four minutes one way or another might not sound like a lot, but when it comes to emergency response times, seconds can mean the difference between living and dying.

“In our business, every second is crucial,” Swartz said. “If we have our Denton helicopter or ambulance out on a call, we will just move one not in use from our next closest base, which would be Frisco.”

Swartz said he has six helicopter bases and 24 ground ambulance bases. One helicopter has been housed in an airport hangar and one ground ambulance has been stationed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton since the beginning of October, he said.

There will be a helicopter and an ambulance stationed in Denton 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure adequate response for emergency personnel, officials said.

The new CareFlite facility will be housed in a hangar owned by HTA Aviation, an aviation services company. Officials said CareFlite will occupy 715 square feet of office space and 4,160 square feet of hangar space in the company’s hangar at 4910 Lockheed Drive.

CareFlite operates with the support of Baylor Health Care, JPS Health Network, Methodist Health System, Parkland Health & Hospital System and Texas Health Resources, as well as through individual and city memberships.

Don Smith, who served on Denton’s airport board for about 35 years, said he is always pleased to see new aviation-related businesses come to the airport.

“When I first started flying out of here, I had to go elsewhere just for maintenance,” said Smith, a retired University of North Texas professor.

A lot has changed since then. The airport had six businesses in 1985 and has now grown to 65 and counting, according to Smith.

We’ve always believed that the airport is a tremendous asset to the city and county that will continue to grow in importance as it develops toward its full potential, and CareFlite’s addition is another key step in that process.

Welcome, CareFlite. It’s good to have you aboard.