With a growing demand of air ambulance rescues service, Monroe County in the Florida Keys may soon be on the lookout for a new rescue helicopter. Currently, the county owns a TraumaStar helicopter that was built in 1982. According to comments from county Sheriff Rick Ramsay, this air ambulance service chopper will need to be replaced at some point especially since there’s a higher demand of the service of late.
High Maintenance May Compel the Need for Smaller Choppers
Ramsay commented that the increase in flying time for their TraumaStar service chopper has led to an increase in the maintenance costs and demand for the aircraft. Jointly operated by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Fire Rescue team, the TraumaStar program has been considering its future needs. In the near future, they might see their current Sikorsky S-764++ replaced by two smaller choppers whose operational costs are lower.
According to Ramsay, a group of 15-20 people comprising of county staff has been carrying out preliminary discussions about the possible changes. They acquired the current aircraft for $3.24 million back in 2006. The aircraft is designed to carry four caregivers and two patients along with two pilots. However, the TraumaStar air ambulance service seldom carries more than one patient at a time. This makes it a possibility to acquire two smaller, low-maintenance aircrafts instead.
Two Smaller Aircrafts Likely to Prove More Efficient for the Air Ambulance Service
Two smaller choppers equipped for medical emergencies could cost somewhere around $1.5 to $2.5 million each. By acquiring two aircrafts, TraumaStar could have a backup helicopter in case the other is grounded for maintenance. Last year, the service accounted for about 400 flights and is on track for 500 flights. Ramsay commented that the program is flying a lot more than expected. This makes it crucial for TraumaStar to have one more helicopter on hand in case of emergencies.