Katara Simmons/News-Sun An Aeromed helicopter takes part in the Sebring Rotary Club's annual ÔTouch A Truck, Touch A Plane' event at the Sebring Regional Airport last year. Aeromed is facing competition from Air Methods for the contract to provide medical air coverage for the county.
published: Friday, July 19, 2013
2 groups vying for county airspace
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Aeromed and Air Methods are partners providing the county's medical emergency air transportation service to trauma centers or larger hospitals. Aeromed provides the medical teams; Air Methods provides the helicopters and pilots.
The companies, however, are dissolving their union as of July 31, the date before a new five-year contract with the county comes into force. Each wants to become the sole provider.
One reason for the break-up is because Tampa General canceled its contract with Air Methods, hiring Metro Transportation instead.
Air Methods, a nationwide, for-profit company, is taking the opportunity to train their own medical teams and provide both the medical service and transportation to communities, John See, the Air Methods vice-president in charge of the region, said. It wants to expand into the county.
Aeromed is just as determined to continue the service it began here in 1994.
In order to serve as a medical emergency air transport system, the provider must have a county issued Certificate Of Public Convenience and Necessity. The document permits medical helicopters to land in the county to transport patients. Aeromed and Air Methods are each asking for a COPCN. More than one certificate may be granted, but Emergency Medical Services director Harvey Craven told the News-Sun "the call volume only supports one company."
See said his company brings vast experience and many resources. "We have 400 aircraft nationally," he said, "and 19 other bases in Florida"
On the other hand, John Dunn, director of communications for Aeromed, said, "Our company is a non-profit and invested in the community. We are a local company. Many of our employees live here in the county."
Craven said, "My main point is I want to maintain air service in the county. I don't care about anything else -- as long as we have service come Aug. 1."
The county commission will be making its decision at its regular meeting, 5 p.m. Tuesday. It may decide to let both companies compete, or choose one over the other.
Commission Chairman Jack Richie told the News-Sun the public is urged to come and give its opinion. "It will be a most interesting discussion. (Company representatives) can talk as long as they wish, and the public will have input -- as long as they are civil.
"This is a licensing procedure," Richie added. "The most important thing is being fair, handling it correctly, with transparency."
(by: Blindman~ - 7/25/2013)
Earlier this year Lee County did a study and ranked Air Methods above Aeromed and voted unanimously to go with Air Methods. Once again, the Highlands County makes an uninformed decision and continues to prove... it's not what you know, it's who you know. Just dress up with blue suits and show up in numbers and that will do it!
Birdman (by: FlyGuy - 7/23/2013)
Hope you come to the BOCC meeting tonight and speak up. Will just prove how uneducated on this matter you really are.
(by: Blindman~ - 7/22/2013)
I don't believe it. This is probably fallout from Obama care. Americas entire health system is under attack. Quality medical service is in jeopardy because of rising medical cost and I bet this was an issue with the hospital board and they discussed ways of cutting cost and switching helicopter companies was the reason. Unsatisfactory service sounds like a lame excuse and I don't believe it.
Air ambulance COST (by: PHIL NICHOLS - 7/21/2013)
Competion is good..1 1/2 years ago it cost over $20,000 for our son to be ransported from Highlands Regional to St. Pete Childrean's Hospital. Think of that cost when you hear or read about someone being transported by air ambulance. Questions, who sets the rates and what's the cut for the county?
Air Methods is doing this same thing in Oregon and Idaho (by: Kitty Kat - 7/20/2013)
Air Methods is a large company with an even larger budget. They are doing the same thing to Life Flight Network in Oregon and Idaho, with their aviation provider contracts also dissolving on July 31. Air Methods is going head-to-head with Life Flight at four base locations; two in Eastern Oregon and two in Idaho. Air Methods has the budget to set up nuisance bases while these other programs don't. This community in FL needs to do their research on Air Methods. I vote to let the local air program stay on as the primary provider. They are not cutting cost by switching to Metro; Metro is a great company with many years of experience.
Not Losing Our Jobs (by: RN - 7/20/2013)
Blindman -- I can assure you the decision by TGH to go with Metro Aviation had nothing to do with "cutting costs" on TGH's part. TGH/Aeromed truly cares about the service they are delivering. Aeromed employees will NOT be losing their jobs. Everyone will continue to have jobs with TGH. That's how TGH operates.....they care about their employees. I have also worked for Air Methods in the past, and if you are interested in educating yourself on how THEY treat their employees please feel free to contact me.
Telling the Truth? (by: Swamp Monkey - 7/20/2013)
The writer states Aeromed has been there since 1994 and that is the truth. Air Methods has only been involved since 2007 when they purchased CJ systems which provided Aeromed with it's helicopters. Tampa General never chose Air Methods as a vendor, they were forced to have them after the buy out in '07. Mr. Craven and the County Commission should do their research on Air Methods. Ask how many bases they have closed in FL and across the country due to low volume. The last one they closed was in N. Florida, was only open for 10 weeks then closed. AeroMed has been loyal to Highlands County for 20 years.
Blindman, you are wrong (by: intheknow - 7/20/2013)
TGH in no way cut its cost. As a matter of fact, the new contract incurred much greater cost. But the hospital felt it was worth it for the improved service that they would given with Metro Aviation.
Blind Man (by: NFP - 7/20/2013)
Air Methods supplied service to Polk County but in 2008 when not enough money was there they where going to close, so AEROMED stepped in and saved the service for the County.
Pay attention to history (by: Historian - 7/20/2013)
I remember when a child died in the early 90s and AEOMED committed to place an aircraft here to avoid that happening every again. They did this for us, and have been here every since for us. Now we will turn our backs on them. That is not the type of people we are here in central Florida!
Record?? (by: intheknow - 7/20/2013)
What about their record, AMC has killed over 18 crew members, pilots and patients in the last 10 years!! Their charges are more than anyone else's in the industry and just look at the number of customers leaving them.....that should speak volumes at their service.......people do not seem to like being with them for long!!
AM Safety (by: rnsafety - 7/20/2013)
Air Methods: "NTSB records show the company has been involved in 12 other helicopter accidents, which included 20 deaths, since 2007."
Being decisive! (by: Blindman~ - 7/19/2013)
John Dunn, TGH "we felt it was time for a change". What reason can anyone suspect other than "cutting cost" would TGH cancel with AM and hire MT? If this is "the real deal" let TGH be responsible for local
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