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Save MEDSTAR
  • Petitioned Commissioner Brian Bigelow

This petition was delivered to:

Lee County, Florida District 2
Commissioner Brian Bigelow
Lee County, Florida District 1
Commissioner John Manning
Lee County, Florida District 3
Commissioner Ray Judah
Lee County, Florida District 4
Commissioner Tammy Hall
Lee County, Florida District 5
Commissioner Frank Mann
Lee County BoCC, Florida
Board of County Commissioners

Save MEDSTAR

    1. Petition by

      We ThePublic

      FL

Demand Accountability and Reinstatment of the MEDSTAR program!

Become Informed

On Tuesday, August 21th, 2012 Lee County issued a press release announcing that it had suspended its helicopter air ambulance and critical care program to seek a voluntary national accreditation.  During the suspension of the program, the Director of Operations was terminated along with three other pilots and the 12 flight paramedics were re-assigned to ground operations to staff ambulances.

Lee County EMS MEDSTAR helicopter program is one of the oldest in the United States, recently celebrating its 36 year of service.  In 2007, MEDSTAR started providing critical care transport by helicopter and by ground using a specialized ground ambulance.  Since the inception of the critical care program, no clinical deficiencies have been reported, nor was any attempt made to correct any perceived deficiencies by EMS Management.  The first indication of clinical concerns came during TV news coverage the afternoon following the program suspension.

Under EMS Chief Dickerson, this is the second time MEDSTAR operations have been suspended. In July 2011, Chief Dickerson called a six week long “Safety Stand-Down”, during which industry experts were contracted to recommend program improvements to management.  These expert recommendations have never been discussed nor have any modifications been made to the program in the year following.

The truth behind why all the program’s line pilots were laid-off instead of just terminating the Director of Operations is simple....EMS Management wanted to remove the company trainer/ check airman pilot without firing him to avoid a federal whistle blower lawsuit.  Prior to the program's suspension, the company trainer/ check airman pilot had been suspended for THREE MONTHS with pay after reporting illegal training/ checkrides to the FAA.  While suspended with pay, his position was filled by other pilots on overtime (time and half).

The TRUTH Behind the CLAIMS

CLAIM #1:  “The current MEDSTAR program could not obtain national accreditation without a nurse”
TRUTH #1:  Page 6, 7, 8 & 28 of the CAMTs 8th Edition Accreditation Standards allows for “alternative team composition; for example paramedic-led teams”.  The removed MEDSTAR team met and in some instances exceeded the accreditation requirements.  View a free copy at  www.camts.org/04_8th_Edition_1_.pdf.  In addition, Collier County’s helicopter currently operates with two paramedics and is still providing service to Lee County.

CLAIM #2:  “Because the MEDSTAR Director of Operations was terminated, the other three pilots had to be terminated per the FAA”.
TRUTH #2:  With the termination of the Director of Operations, MEDSTAR could have continued to operate legally under Part 91 of the FAA Federal Aviation Regulations until a replacement Director Pilot was hired.  Lee County could have also appointed an interim Chief Pilot to continue flying under Part 135.  Additional, two of three pilots are state certified EMTs, they could have also been re-assigned to an ambulance until the rebuild was complete.  All three terminated pilots are ARMY VETERANS, two of which JUST SERVED in IRAQ!  They were the “right mix” to risk their lives for our freedom, but no longer the “right mix” to fly Lee County’s helicopters according to Chief Dickerson and Director Wilson?

CLAIM #3:  “The team that we had in place, we didn’t feel it was the right team to get us where we wanted to go; however, the pilots and flight paramedics can reapply when that accreditation goal is achieved”.
TRUTH #3:  The former MEDSTAR team of pilots and flight paramedics collectively possessed many of the industries top ratings...from all the pilots being rated as helicopter Air Transport Pilots to the flight paramedics being board certified in flight and critical care medicine. 

After signing the petition go to http://www.SaveMEDSTAR.org for updates and more FACTS!

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 750 signatures
    2. Yet another lie has been exposed!

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      County administrators have said they had to shut down MEDSTAR after firing Director of Operations Rob Fulton, per FAA rules. His termination letter states, though, that his position was being eliminated as a result of the suspension of the program. Fulton says a visit from the FAA scheduled on August 21, the same day EMS administrators pulled the plug on MEDSTAR would have certified the program to start billing for flights.
      <a href="http://www.nbc-2.com/story/19528204/2012/09/12/former-medstar-director">Continue Reading</a>.

    3. Reached 500 signatures
    4. Management Profile Page

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      Management Profile page added to <a href= "www.SaveMEDSTAR.org">www.SaveMEDSTAR.org</a>. Learn more information about the managers involved in the MEDSTAR shutdown. Direct Link <a href= "https://sites.google.com/site/savemedstar/home/management-profiles">here</a>

    5. BoCC Meeting 09/11!

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      This Tuesday starting a 9:30 am is a public BoCC meeting. Please attend and speak out. If you can't attend, make sure to fill out an ecomment <a href="http://www.lee-county.com/gov/BoardofCountyCommissioners/Pages/CountyAgendas.aspx">here</a> by midnight tonight!

    6. Reached 250 signatures
    7. EXCLUSIVE: Former MEDSTAR pilot talks about internal issues

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- We're pressing for answers in a MEDSTAR mess. Lee County's MEDSTAR helicopters are still grounded. But millions of tax payer dollars just flew out the window. It's because a helicopter and the pilots never had proper FAA certification so they were not able to bill patients. Only on WINK tonight you'll hear from a former pilot who says he quit because MEDSTAR put him and his family at risk. That former MEDSTAR pilot told us internal troubles with management have been happening for years. He calls it embarrassing. Ricky Tackett has been a pilot for since the 70s. For 25 of those years, he flew emergency medical helicopters. But it was Lee County's MEDSTAR that forced him to hang up his flight suit.
      <a href= "http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2012-09-07/EXCLUSIVE-Former-MEDSTAR-pilot-talks-about-internal-issues#.UEqXTo1lTYh">Continue Reading</a>

    8. FAA to investigate Lee County MedStar

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      Federal Aviation Administration officials announced Friday they will investigate Lee County’s medical flight program, after revelations that county officials were billing patients in violation of federal rules. Lee County officials admitted they sent out more than $3 million in bills without meeting federally mandated requirements designed to enhance safety, such as pilot training. Agencies and companies that charge people for flights must comply with those rules, according to the FAA. “This is something that we will investigate and take appropriate actions based on what the investigation finds,” FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.
      <a href= "http://www.news-press.com/article/20120907/NEWS01/120907020/FAA-investigate-Lee-County-MedStar?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Home">Continue Reading</a>

    9. Lee County wants answers on MEDSTAR over billing

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      LEE COUNTY - County leaders are demanding answers after finding out Lee County's MEDSTAR helicopter program overbilled patients and the federal government to the tune of $3-million. Frank Mann has seen a lot in his six-plus years as a Lee County Commissioner, but he says he's never been this angry. "I haven't been this upset over something since I got here," he said. Hundreds of petitions are flooding his office and others from an online social media campaign to save the MEDSTAR program. It was abruptly shut down last month and the pilots were fired. "We have millions invested in this program. And the solution is to shut it down? That makes no sense. There better be good answers from staff," said Mann. Lee County EMS management says that shutdown was for a voluntary national accreditation.
      <a href= "http://www.nbc-2.com/story/19487231/county-leaders-want-answers-on-medstar-overbilling">Continue Reading</a>

    10. Two top county workers "double dipping"

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      Two high profile Lee County employees have joined the county's growing list of double-dippers. The employees retire, receive retirement benefits, return to work in 30 days and collection both their pension and salary. For more than two decades, John Wilson has led Lee County's public safety division. A week ago, Wilson and veteran Chief Building Official Bobby Stewart retired from their six-figure jobs. When Wilson returns to work he will have pocketed a lump retirement sum over $200,000 plus he will collect $4500 in pension checks every month. That's on top of his six figure salary.
      <a href= "http://www.abc-7.com/Global/story.asp?s=12279728&clienttype=printable">Continue Reading</a>

    11. Reached 100 signatures
    12. County-FAA Emails

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      Read the email exchange between Pilot McAllister, EMS Management and the FAA for yourself <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/savemedstar/home/files">here</a>.

    13. Reached 10 signatures
    14. CAMTS: A Question of Credibility

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      How does a well-meaning organization, dedicated to improving medical transport safety and patient care, become so controversial? "Where the hell does a private organization with a nursing agenda get off telling aviation companies with our own set of regulations how to conduct our operation? And how did they get this much power?" "We have been running EMS operations for over 30 years, well in advance of the CAMTS accreditation process and we feel that the manner in which we have structured our helicopter EMS program provides a very robust system; integrating the company-wide safety management system with well-developed SOPs [standard operating procedures] and a strong safety culture. If we were just starting out in EMS, then the CAMTS process is probably a worthwhile tool; but for mature programs it can be a real drain on resources."
      <a href= "http://verticalmag.com/news/articles/camts--a-question-of-credibility--part-1-of-2.html">Continue Reading</a>

    15. New-Press Opinion

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      No justifiable reason to abruptly shut down EMS helicopters. There is no requirement to seek this accreditation and many air ambulances operate throughout our country without such an accreditation. Is that really the reason or are there underlying financial, personnel and management issues?
      <a href= "http://www.news-press.com/article/20120901/OPINION/309010012/Michael-Kingery-No-justifiable-reason-abruptly-shut-down-EMS-helicopters">Continue Reading</a>

    16. News-Press Friday's letters to the editor

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      Lack of vision. Again, Lee County EMS administration delivers crisis management at its best. With a pilot on administrative leave for months and another pilot resigning over “undisclosed” issues, disgruntled medics, and a severe lack of leadership at the top, there is certainly more to this story.
      <a href= "http://www.news-press.com/article/20120831/OPINION/308310019/Friday-s-letters-editor">Continue Reading</a>

    17. NBC-2 News

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      FORT MYERS, FL - Lee County's emergency medical helicopter program was abruptly suspended Tuesday morning. The six- to nine-month suspension is being done to reconfigure the program to meet national accreditation standards, according to county officials. A total of four MEDSTAR employees, including three pilots and the director of operations, were laid off as the service was suspended as of 7 a.m. The former employees will be allowed to re-apply for their positions when the program resumes.
      <a href= "http://www.nbc-2.com/story/19330028/lee-county-shuts-down-medical-helicopter-program">Continue Reading</a>

    18. Naples News

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      Lee County’s decision to ground its medical helicopter for patient transports could delay gaining national accreditation due to a lack of current flight data, according to the national organization. “It may or may not affect accreditation,” said Eileen Frazer, executive director of the accreditation organization, based in Anderson, S.C. “It all depends. That is one if the questions they have to answer.” Frazer said she doesn’t understand why county EMS officials decided to suspend the entire operation when they intend to pursue the national ranking. “I don’t know what the purpose of that is,” she said. “I’ve never heard of that. If you are going to do this, you’ve got to have current data.”
      <a href= "http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/aug/23/lee-county-medical-helicopter-grounding-could/">Continue Reading</a>

    19. Only Two EMS Helicopters in FL

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      According to the CAMTs website, only two helicopter ambulance programs in the state of Florida hold its accreditation. The three helicopter programs (MedFlight, AreoMed and BayFlite) Chief Dickerson and Director Wilson have currently filling in MEDSTAR absences are <strong>NOT accredited</strong> under this company.
      <a href= "http://www.camts.org/Florida.html">Florida Accreditation List</a>

    20. WINK News

      We ThePublic
      Petition Organizer

      LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County is lining up some back-up medical helicopters for the suspended Medstar service. The public safety dept. says Bayflight from St. Petersburg, will station a chopper in North Port. And the county wants to get another chopper here. Lee Memorial is having to hire severasl people to make up for the loss of critical care ground transport, associated with the Medstar program.
      <a href= "http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2012-08-23/Lee-is-Lining-up-some-Back-up-for-Suspended-Medstar">Continue Reading</a>

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Laura Bennett FORT MYERS, FL
      • almost 2 years ago

      Heaven forbid one of us or our loved ones needs critical medical help. This program is essential and should never have been grounded let alone grounded for this long.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Dave Spillers MIAMI, FL
      • almost 2 years ago

      I travel to Lee County to vacation with my family & wouldn't want to have to wait for any of them to receive EMS helicopter services.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • sandra todd FT MYERS, FL
      • almost 2 years ago

      I know of people that lives were saved due to medstar!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Larry Stubbe NORTH FORT MYERS, FL
      • almost 2 years ago

      We the citizens of lee county need medstar back in service immediately. We've invested in this service, want this service, and will continue to back this service. There seems to be no reason for a delay in reinstating this service.

      As a taxpayer I hold to the belief that there are certain public services that should never be privatized. Police, fire, and EMS are a few, med star falling in the EMS category.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • david martin BATON ROGE, LA
      • almost 2 years ago

      im a paramedic and strong supporter of air ambulance programs. im against dishonesty.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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