University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics on Thursday began basing one of its AirMed helicopters in Utah County.

The Bell 207 helicopter and its flight crew will be based 12 hours a day at Timpanogos Medical Center in Orem.

The move is designed to cut the travel time needed in the Utah County area when someone is seriously injured or critically ill, according to acting chief flight nurse Andrew Knapp.

AirMed has already placed its Bell 407 helicopter in Summit County on a similar basis, Knapp said. The third helicopter, a Bell 430, will maintain its base at University Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Besides putting a medical-transport crew 15 minutes closer to patients who are injured in Utah County, the move also extends the University's service range for patient air transport down into central Utah.

On an emergency basis, service has been available in part of the area, but it will be more feasible to use it now that it's that much closer, said Knapp. "We'll be servicing Payson, Nephi, Gunnison and Richfield if we need to."

Not all the patients airlifted by AirMed will be taken to University Hospital.

"We will work into the community in Utah County," said Knapp, unless someone needs care at a level 1 trauma center.