ShandsCair to expand service into Marion County with base, helicopter

ShandsCair, the air medical and critical care transport system for Shands at the University of Florida, is expanding its horizons and flight capabilities by setting up a second base in Marion County, complete with a second helicopter.

On Feb. 15, ShandsCair will launch “ShandsCair 2” in Marion County, just south of Ocala. The ShandsCair 2 base will be staffed by eight additional ShandsCair employees and will be supported by an orange and blue helicopter with the call sign “ShandsCair 2. 

“The new ShandsCair base will greatly enhance Marion County’s already outstanding emergency response program, benefitting the residents both north and south of Gainesville and Ocala,” said Edward Jimenez, Shands at UF senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to more closely serve the residents of Marion County.”

The new ShandsCair base is located at Marion County’s Spruce Creek Fire Station 30 in Summerfield, seven miles north of The Villages, and will be shared with members of Marion County Fire Rescue. ShandsCair will staff a flight nurse/paramedic and a paramedic 24/7 at Station 30.

“By creating a permanent base south of Ocala with an additional helicopter and flight crew, ShandsCair will significantly improve our coverage throughout north central Florida, enabling us to retrieve and deliver both trauma and medical patients to the right facility, even faster than was possible with a single helicopter,” said Staccie Allen, RN, EMT-P, ShandsCair program director.

ShandsCair is the only critical care transport system in north central Florida that offers ground, helicopter and fixed-wing transports. ShandsCair transports patients from all parts of Florida to many other hospitals as required, not just to the UF&Shands Academic Health Center. Med-Trans Corp. will provide pilots and mechanics for ShandsCair 2 in addition to the aircraft.

The UF&Shands Level 1 Trauma Center, led by Frederick Moore, M.D., a nationally recognized leader in trauma and surgical critical care, is well-equipped to serve the growing demand for emergency services throughout north central Florida. It also has the only state-designated Burn Center in North Florida and serves as a referral center for services from the southeastern United States. 

In December, ShandsCair marked 30 years of service to north central Florida. The program began in December 1981 with a flight to West Palm Beach to bring a patient back to Shands at UF. Since then, ShandsCair has provided care to more than 44,700 patients.

“We’re very proud of our ShandsCair Flight Program and its commitment to excellence, and we’re excited about this opportunity” Jimenez said. “We look forward to continuing to provide high-quality care for the residents of north central Florida.”