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North Memorial Ambulance may fly into Bemidji

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The Bemidji Regional Airport is working on a lease agreement with North Memorial Ambulance Service in which a hangar would be built that would house one helicopter.

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Airport Manager Harold Van Leeuwen confirmed the potential deal last week.

Mike Parrish, director of North Memorial Ambulance, said Wednesday that North Memorial is looking forward to serving the Bemidji area.

"We're excited," he said. "We want to work with the medical community."

North Memorial Ambulance is a department of North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. However, their relationship will have little impact on an injured person's destination, Parrish said.

Seventy-eight percent of North Memorial Ambulance's helicopter transports last year went to hospitals other than NMMC, he said.

"We take patients to where they direct us to go," Parrish said. "We want to get them to the right place."

The ambulance service would, for instance, send a helicopter to a personal-injury accident and transport to victim to a hospital, such as North Country Regional Hospital. The ambulance service also could transport injured individuals from NCRH to other hospitals, such as MeritCare Hospital in Fargo or NMMC.

According to Web site, North Memorial Ambulance Service operates in the Twin Cities, Brainerd, Park Rapids, Douglas County, Faribault and Princeton regions. It also serves several communities in Wisconsin.

Parrish said North Memorial Ambulance is looking at being operational either part-time or full-time sometime in September.

"We want to be part of the community," Parrish said. "We want to develop and have good working relationships with North Country (Regional) Hospital. We want to work with the medical community."

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