PAULS VALLEY, Okla. (KTEN) — A new air medical base is now operational in Pauls Valley.

The Air Evac Lifeteam operation fills a gap in air ambulance services in southern Oklahoma. Until now, teams in Ada or Ardmore would cover this area when services were needed.

"We were covering this area already, but we had much longer response times," said flight paramedic Lloyd Cash. "Getting this aircraft here will cut response times down tremendously."

The goal is to expand access to emergency air medical services across rural Oklahoma.

"We have so many rural areas that are so far from Level 1 trauma centers; a brain can be lost in minutes; a heart is lost in minutes," Cash said. "Many times those can't be met in rural areas without an asset such as a plane or helicopter."

This is Oklahoma's first Air Evac base to operate an aircraft capable of instrument flying, which lets pilots operate in reduced visibility conditions.

"This will be a huge asset whenever we have weather minimums and are unable to fly," said Air Evac base director David Morriss. "We can use this asset to go anywhere it needs to go in Oklahoma."

The Pauls Valley base is also home to a fixed-wing operation.

"We support Air Evac for the longer haul patient transports, because as a fixed wing we are capable of a longer range than helicopters," said pilot Inseong Yo.

On both the helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, patients are cared for by both a paramedic and a registered nurse.

"The nurse and paramedic combination is genius, because nurses have the clinical experience, where paramedics are more hands-on," explained paramedic Floyd Murray.

Additionally, Air Evac's helicopter carries blood and offers several critical care assets, including venilators and cardiac monitors.