Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved purchasing a third
Sikorsky helicopter for its life-saving, Trauma Star air ambulance program with
funding from the infrastructure sales tax fund.
began looking into a third helicopter for the Trauma Star program following
complaints that County residents were being left with bills of tens of
thousands of dollars for transportation on LifeNet, the private air ambulance
company operating out of the Lower Keys Medical Center. County residents’
insurance companies are billed for transportation on Trauma Star, but County
residents do not pay any out-of-pocket expenses.
requested that LifeNet also not charge County residents any out-of-pocket
expenses. LifeNet proposed doing so, but only with a $400,000 per year subsidy
from the County.
determined that over time it was more cost effective for taxpayers if the
County purchased a third helicopter. In 2016, the program broke even in
operations despite flying a record 528 patients,
which is 131 more that the number of people flown in the previous record year
it is our guiding principal that all residents of Monroe County should be
treated equally,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “It was not
fair that if you needed to be airlifted in the Lower Keys, it was a crapshoot
who would pick you up. If it wasn’t Trauma Star, you could be looking at a bill
of $40,000 or more.”
County Fire Rescue and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office partnered in 2001 to
start the publicly-supported Trauma Star program in 2001 – at a time when no
private company wanted to provide the service in the Florida Keys.
then, more than 3,000 residents and visitor have been flown to trauma and
specialty care hospitals in Miami. (The program’s first Sikorsky helicopters
began flying in 2006).
March, the County purchased a 2002 Sikorsky helicopter to replace the aging
1981 Sikorsky helicopter –which has been kept as a backup when the other
helicopter is not in operation for maintenance.
ago County residents were mailed red and white Trauma Star First Option
stickers to be placed on their driver’s license or medical insurance cards. If
you are a resident and did not receive a sticker, you can call 305-289-6010 or
pick them up at any fire station in the Keys, at Monroe County Fire Rescue
Headquarters at 490 63rd Street Ocean in Marathon or at any of the
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office sub-stations.
information about the fee-waiver program and requirements for residents, go to
Monroe County’s website at www.monroecounty-fl.gov, click on the Resident tab, and then
click on the Trauma Star link.