By Staff Writer | August 1, 2007
The sheriff’s department in Port St. Lucie, Fla. will fly only two medical evacuation helicopters starting Oct. 1 instead of the three it has been flying. Tax reform has caused the county to eliminate the AgustaWestland AW119 Koala from its fleet. Port St. Lucie County’s two Bell Helicopter OH-58s will now respond to emergency medical calls. Sheriff Ken Mascara said the cost to maintain the AW119 is $500,000 a year. The aircraft is on the market for $3.5 million. There is no cost to transport a patient on a county-owned helicopter. Mascara is considering the use of a private service which would charge the patient or insurance company for usage of the helicopter. The helicopters transport patients to local hospitals or trauma centers at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach or Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne.