The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, alongside elected leaders and regional public safety officials, have launched a new tribal ground ambulance and medical helicopter.
They will provide critical care and medical transport services on the Morongo Reservation in communities across the San Gorgonio Pass and beyond.
The partnership between Morongo and Global Medical Response (GMR) companies, REACH Air Medical Services and American Medical Response, is believed to be the US’s first collaboration between a federally recognized tribe and an emergency medical service provider to provide both air and ground ambulances.
Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin said: “The Morongo ground and air ambulances will save lives on our Reservation and across the San Gorgonio Pass by delivering immediate, high-quality emergency medical care to those in need.
“Public safety has always been a top priority for our tribe, and our new ambulance program in partnership with American Medical Response and REACH is the latest extension of that commitment.”
Based at the Morongo Tribal Fire Department, the new bright-red ground ambulance staffed with full-time Morongo firefighter/paramedics began responding to emergencies in Pass cities and communities in early March. The Tribal medical air unit, a twin-engine Airbus H-145 helicopter, took flight on 01 April and is dispatched to emergencies by Riverside County’s CAL FIRE operations center.
“We are excited to be teaming up with Morongo to launch a historic ground and air ambulance service that will bring comprehensive care to critically-ill or injured patients on the Morongo Reservation and in Riverside County’s Pass and desert communities,” said Sean Russell, President, GMR Pacific Region. “This new partnership stands as a nationwide model for future tribal and community-based ambulance programs.”
The tribe plans to construct a future helipad and fire substation on the Morongo Reservation in 2024 to base the helicopter. Until then, the air unit will operate from the Bermuda Dunes Airport.