Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently declared that the state cannot oversee the marketing of air medical providers, such as Texas LifeStar or LifeTeam. The ruling created an influx of information on ways to become a member of such service providers. Two providers are close to Stephenville and both are owned by the same parent company.

“We usually have about 20 air medical transports a year in the Stephenville area,” said Erath County Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Cole.

Paying into this service, however, does not mean that patients have the ability to call their providers to their homes or scenes of accidents.

“The requests for air medical transport must go through the public safety dispatch or hospitals,” Cole said.

Payment to these companies allows for full coverage in the event of an emergency. If air medical transport is deemed necessary by a health service provider and the patient has purchased a membership with these companies, the patient’s air medical transport bills will be covered. Air medical transport, however, will not simply be sent out on a whim. According to the brochure for Texas LifeStar, the transport will only be dispatched in the case of “life or limb-threatening emergency” and care will be provided based on need, not membership.

Air medical transport services are only available when the weather allows and other factors may not allow the transport service to be dispatched. Factors such as weather, patient size or maintenance requirements may keep the transport service grounded.

According to the brochure, “the primary determinant of whether to accept a flight is always the safety of the patient and the medical flight crews.”