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Air Ambulance Insurance Information

Mercy Air helicopter ambulance transporting a patient from Julian to a San Diego hospital.
This photo is copyright of Eva Hatch. © 2019 - 2022 by Eva Hatch.

Every so often Julian residents receive a mailer about air ambulance health insurance networks. These flyers always cause some confusion within the community. To the best of our knowledge, this is what you need to know before you buy air ambulance coverage.

There are two air ambulance companies that serve the backcountry of San Diego: Mercy Air and REACH Air Medical Services.

Air transport time from Julian to the nearest hospital is fifteen to twenty minutes vs. the hour and a half ground ambulance transport. If a patient needs to be transported by an air ambulance to a hospital, our local emergency crews on the ground have no control over which company responds.

Mercy Air has been the Julian-Cuyamaca area’s only responder for many years with REACH as the backup. REACH recently expanded from Imperial County to Alpine, however, giving them a much quicker response time to the Julian-Cuyamaca area and allowing them to become an initial responder.

REACH is a partner in the AirMedCare Network, which provides its members with no out-of-pocket cost if a member is transported with an AirMedCare Network partner company. Mercy Air Care (based in Iowa) and Mercy Air MED are listed as the partner companies. These two companies are NOT affiliated with the Mercy Air company that serves the San Diego backcountry, according to a Mercy Air representative we contacted. This means in order for an AirMedCare Network member to be covered for an air ambulance ride in the backcountry of San Diego, you have to be transported by REACH. If you are transported by Mercy Air, AirMedCare will NOT cover you.

Through the conversation with the Mercy Air representative, we learned that Mercy Air is owned by AirMethods. AirMethods offers its own air ambulance insurance to members. This guarantees no out-of-pocket cost for an air ambulance ride from our area to a hospital if you are an AirMethods member.

In short, because emergency crews cannot request a particular air ambulance service, you will need to be a member of both AirMedCare and AirMethods to ensure your evacuation flight will be covered.

Still, have questions? Contact the various companies below:

AirMethods website:

AirMethods phone number: 1-855-877-2518

AirMedCare Network website:

REACH phone number: (707) 324-2400

REACH website:


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