The service is the business venture of six districts on the Oglala Lakota nation and private industry that has been in the pipeline for two years. The helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) provides a solution to the sparsity of nearby HEMS – previously, air ambulances would need to be called in from Rapid City to assist those in the Oglala Lakota region, which would often keep crucial rescue efforts on hold.
"[For] critical incidents that happen on our reservation, every minute counts and everybody in the health profession knows that every minute counts," said Richard Greenwald, Oglala Sioux Tribal Council member.
The partnership, crafted with Texas-based Apollo Med Flight, brings a new emergency air service based in Pine Ridge, and marks a milestone for the air rescue industry.
"We believe we are making history by being the first Native owned air rescue in the US," said Derek Janis, President of the Pine Ridge District.