MedStar in Lee County permanently grounded
County commissioners unanimously voting to end the program and pursue instead a private or combination public-private option. Video by fox4now.comvideo
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Lee County's air rescue program -- Medstar -- is now permanently grounded.
County commissioners unanimously voted to end the program and pursue instead a private or combination public-private option.
The county hopes to potentially minimize federal fines by deciding not to pursue the federal certification it had been lacking.
That lengthy process and saving millions in operating costs lead to the decision.
"We could save $2 million to the tax payer. And that's exactly what we're trying to do, fix the budget and make sure that that service stays in tact," says freshman commissioner Larry Kiker.
Former Medstar pilots, including "Mac" McAllister, will not be returning under any of the options. And
Mac doubts the wisdom of a public-private model under which county paramedics would work on board private helicopters .
"If there's an accident God forbid, then the county is going to be held liable for any lawsuit," says McAllister.
He and other county employees are sickened to see a 35 year program go out like this.
"They didn't have the mangers or the background necessary to properly administer the program. So rather than dealing with the issues, they just shelved it and handed it over to a private company," McAllister adds.
Requests for bids from private companies should go out this week.
In the meantime, a private company out of Tampa continues to provide air rescue to Lee County.