The December 5 presenters for the meeting of the Rotary Club of Heber Springs were Cheyne Newberry and Shaine Keasler representing Survival Flight, Inc. With the home office in Arkansas originally operating out of Batesville, Survival Flight also has helicopters ready to reach much of the rest of the state of Arkansas from Searcy, Pocahontas, Russellville, and Hot Springs. They also have three bases of operation in Missouri, two in Oklahoma and one in Illinois.  Their positions around the state mean that they can reach many of the small rural hospitals within 15 minutes of a call.

Speaking of the founding of the company, Shaine Keasler noted that Batesville was chosen because it was an area that was underserved by other air evacuation companies.  In the early days of the company, they were approached by a major investor who agreed to invest, but only if they could ensure that no other family would face what he had faced during an emergency. While he was out of town on a business trip, his wife and daughter were in a vehicle accident. Air medical support was called in, and the daughter was flown from the crash scene to a hospital some distance away. His wife was left at the accident scene, and it took hours to track down where their daughter had been taken – or even if she was still alive. The man said if he invested in the company, it would be on the condition that this would never happen to another family. Because of that, Survival Flight helicopters are equipped with a “third rider” seat, which in nearly all circumstances, allows a loved one to fly with the patient to the hospital. They are the only company in the state with this option. “It’s a small gesture,” Mr. Keasler said, “but it means the world to those impacted.”

Noting that the company motto is “Do the right thing. Always,” they strive to do just that. They are a local company that strives to have local relationships and local company control. “We’re definitely a ‘mom and pop’ company in the way we relate to the public,” Mr. Newberry said, “but we’re way beyond ‘mom and pop’ with the equipment we have. Our whole purpose for existing is time and speed.” When lives are on the line, their average flight time is 12 minutes to Batesville and 11 minutes to Searcy. They are currently one of the largest air medical providers in the state and have flown more than 300 flights already this year, an average one a day for each of their bases of operation.

Memberships in the company can be purchased by individuals for $45, families, for $50 or groups of 10 or more for $40.  A membership will ensure that a patient will never pay anything out of pocket for the use of the emergency flight service.  For more information on Survival Flight, visit their website at or call 877-581-6530, Extension 206.

Rotarians are “People of Action” who are making a difference locally, nationally and internationally.  The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The Rotary Club of Heber Springs meets each Tuesday at noon on the ASU-Heber Springs Campus. For more information about the Rotary Club of Heber Springs, please visit our Facebook page at