Since 2001 the Monroe County Trauma Star Air-Ambulance program has been in place to help ensure residents in the Florida Keys can have access to emergency services. Working together, the Monroe County Fire & Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office started the program, which currently includes two helicopters. Now it’s time for a third one, to better support the Lower Keys with this vital public service.
As recently reported in an article published by Keys Weekly, the addition to the trauma fleet comes in response from many residents and visitors being faced with hefty bills, sometimes as much as $40,000, after receiving a life-saving air lift ride from LifeNet, a private air-ambulance service which began operating in the Lower Keys in 2008.
Since then, anyone needing an emergency air-ambulance in the Lower Keys has been just as likely to end up with a huge bill after transport by a private company, in lieu of getting air-lifted from the public county service. If the Air Trauma services are already in use, LifeNet will still come to the rescue. While there are now Trauma Star First Option stickers which residents can place on their insurance cards or driver’s license, it’s been no guarantee of rescue by the Monroe County service, should you be in the Lower Keys at the time of your emergency.
Taking into account the charges residents and visitors have been faced with, and cost vs return on investment comparisons, the Monroe County Commission determined buying a third helicopter for the Trauma Star Program was the best solution. The key difference between a public service and private one is that there are no out of pocket expenses if using the county rescue program, charges go through insurance billing*. The private service includes direct charges to the patient. It was noted in the article that Monroe County requested LifeNet to discontinue the out of pocket charges, but were told a subsidy of $400,000 per year would be needed to counter their cost differences. After comparing this to the cost of a new Helicopter, adding to the Trauma Star fleet made more sense from a budget consideration.
The addition of a third helicopter to the Trauma Star Program will help ensure all residents and visitors across the Florida Keys will have access to the same vital services in an emergency. Solutions such as this highlight what a supportive community we have here in paradise. If you are ready to find your piece of island paradise in the Florida Keys, or if you are ready to sell or buy in the Key West area, please contact me, Jimmy Lane, for all of your real estate needs.
*subject to Insurance Plan Policy and Individual’s Plan Coverage