Helicopter not sent when teens critically injured in crash
Medstar chopper is grounded, backup was broken
Two teens are critically injured in a car crash last night but Lee County's Medstar helicopter couldn't respond....because it's grounded. Tonight, concerned citizens calling for action, saying something has to be done before this happens again. Four Video by fox4now.com
LEE COUNTY - Two teens are critically injured in a car crash last night but Lee County's Medstar helicopter couldn't respond....because it's grounded. Tonight, concerned citizens calling for action, saying something has to be done before this happens again. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason getting to the bottom of this one.
The crash last night was so severe.....both teens had to be extricated from the truck. Paramedics called the county's backup helicopter but it couldn't respond because of mechanical problems. Now people are fired up.....demanding county officials restore the Medstar service before it's too late.
When a life is on the line seconds count. In Lee County, Medstar's helicopter has meant the difference between life and death....shuttling patients to the hospital in just minutes. But early Friday morning....a horrible car crash in Estero had 2 teens clinging to life. While driving on Corkscrew Road they slammed into a power pole...both needed to be extricated from the truck.
Mac: "It was a worst case scenario for the families and the victims last night."
Arnold Macallister - or "Mac" - was Medstar's pilot for over ten years. He says, in this accident, the helicopter could have made a real difference.
Mac: "The helicopter could have been launched in probably 5 to 6 minutes which is literally half the national average of 10 to 12 minutes."
Instead, both teens were driven to Lee Memorial Hospital by ambulance and are still there recovering.
Today, Lee County's Deputy Director of Public Safety, Kim Dickerson, saying this accident didn't require Medstar.
She says county policy states patients will be driven to the ER if they're less than 30 minutes away. But Mac says Medstar's protocol has always been to send the chopper if a crash is so severe a victim needs to be extricated from a vehicle.
Mac: "Could've landed there and shut down at the scene and waited for them to be extricated."
Records show it took paramedics 8 minutes to extricate the first patient....and 28 minutes to get the other teen out of the car. Mac says while they were being extricated, Medstar's helicopter would have normally flown to the scene so it could be there as soon as the teens were pulled to safety. Despite this, records show an ambulance took 22 minutes to drive the first patient to the hospital and the second one took 16 minutes. Mac says that's too long when seconds count.
Paige Rausch: "What if it was Boca Grande, what if it was one of the outer lying islands?"
Paige Rausch is a concerned citizen. She hopes county officials work quickly to restore Medstar's services --- and the public's trust.
Paige Rausch: "If it was myself or my family member I would have absolutely hoped that Medstar would have been there for us."
Tonight we wanted to know why Kim Dickerson told us Medstar would not have been sent to this accident, even though the teens had to be extricated from the vehicle.....but we are still waiting to find out.