ELK CITY, Oklahoma - Thousands of Oklahomans living in rural communities rely on air helicopters to get to medical care. 

In Elk City, Air Evac has served the community for 15 years responding to bad crashes or serious medical conditions.

"Air Evac is basically the same as a ground ambulance, only we are able to fly at greater speed and longer distances, get patients to critical care within that golden hour of need," said Rodney Baker, the Elk City Program Director for Air Evac. 

The Elk City base is one of two Oklahoma bases that serve with a surgical extraction team. 

"We co-op with the trauma surgeon here in Elk City, Dr. Peña is our sole surgical extraction," said Baker. "(He'll) jump on board with us when we are having to go to a scene where a patient or patients are involved in an accident that require surgical extractions to be able to be extracted from the vehicle."

For crews on the ground, having an advantage in the air means everything when care determining life or death is many miles away. 

"Up there you have a lot of specialty centers, while out here we have one hospital for Elk City," said Demeire Pool, an Advanced EMT for Elk City Fire. "We don’t have the specialists that they have up in Oklahoma City."

It takes a team to make it happen. In the end, it saves lives. 

"Thank goodness we have our fire departments that help us on landing zones and making sure that our aircraft is safe when they are on the ground, so we can provide care to patients that really are need," said Baker.