(Helicopter mechanic Dave Saylor checks the rotors of a CALSTAR air ambulance Eurocopter 135 P2+ at Watsonville Municipal Airport where CALSTAR has set up a new base known as CALSTAR 14. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — CALSTAR Air Medical Services opened its newest emergency air medical transport base at Watsonville Municipal Airport on Monday.
“Over the past three decades, CALSTAR has proudly served the residents and visitors of Santa Cruz County from bases in the surrounding regions,” said Anna Blair, vice president of service delivery for CALSTAR. “From the very beginning, the plan for our expansion into Watsonville and Santa Cruz County was founded not only on continuing that long-standing history of service, but increasing overall support to local EMS (emergency medical service) and healthcare systems, and offering increased access to vital air medical transport services to patients in need. To see that plan come to life and the base be placed into service this morning was a proud moment.”
The new base is staffed by a flight crew consisting of pilots, clinicians and aircraft maintenance technicians. Their Airbus EC 135 helicopter is medically-configured and equipped with the latest in avionics and safety features, organizers said. The instrument flight rule equipped aircraft also has GPS approach capabilities that will allow transports to and from Dominican Hospital during inclement weather.
EMS medical director for Santa Cruz County Dr. David Ghilarducci said, “CALSTAR has served our community well for over three decades, and this additional in-county resource will improve our ability to provide critical emergency medical transport services, both air and ground.”
CALSTAR also maintains bases in Santa Clara, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties.
“This is exciting for us to open this base in Watsonville,” said Jeff Horner, program director. “We had our first transfer the day we opened; we look forward to serving this community.”