BOCC Approves $2.5 Million To Purchase Helicopter for Trauma Star

Trauma Star lands on Shark Key Bridge at mile marker 11.3 of the Overseas Highway on June 9, 2016 to pick up a car crash victim with life-threatening injuries and transport him to a trauma center on the mainland. Photo by Cammy Clark.
Trauma Star lands on Shark Key Bridge at mile marker 11.3 of the Overseas Highway on June 9, 2016 to pick up a car crash victim with life-threatening injuries and transport him to a trauma center on the mainland. Photo by Cammy Clark.

KEY LARGO – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners, at its Wednesday meeting in Key Largo, unanimously approved spending $2.5 million from the voter-supported infrastructure sales tax fund to purchase a 2002 Sikorsky helicopter for its life-saving, Trauma Star air ambulance program.

The helicopter is needed to replace the aging 1981 Sikorsky helicopter, which has flown 2,445 people from the Florida Keys to trauma centers and hospitals on the mainland since beginning operations in 2006. The County will keep the 1981 Sikorsky – which is still operational but has become increasingly expensive to maintain – as a backup to be used when the 2002 Sikorsky is out of service for routine maintenance.

The 1981 Sikorsky S76 A++ cost the County $3.24 million a decade ago. The 2002 Sikorsky S-76 C+ helicopter, previously flown by the Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Angel One air ambulance program, will cost the County about $760,000 less.

“This is like it fell out of the sky … what a terrific solution,” Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said about the good fortune of finding a helicopter that fits Trauma Star’s needs at such a good price.

The 2002 Sikorsky is similar to Trauma Star’s current helicopter – able to hold two pilots, two patients and up to four caregivers – but it is equipped with more modern avionics and has better lift capabilities that are needed on high humidity days, especially for flying out of hospital helipads that are surrounded by buildings and mangroves, said Trauma Star and EMS Captain Andrea Thompson of Monroe County Fire Rescue.

“It’s the old deal: timing, timing, timing,” Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief James Callahan said. “The Sheriff’s Office mechanics have inspected this bird and it looks like a great deal for us. It’s also a Sikorsky, the same brand the pilots, mechanics, paramedics and nurses are familiar with and enjoy. This helicopter will help us continue to save the lives of people suffering from strokes, heart attacks and critical injuries.”

Trauma Star, which is jointly operated by Monroe County Fire Rescue and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, already has transported 228 people this year, putting it on track for a record year of use.

Trauma Star also is a County service whose operations now almost pay for itself. The program transported a record number of 397 people last year at a cost of $2.7 million. However, revenues collected from insurance and out-of-county patients covered 96 percent of that cost. Taxpayers footed only $285,516 of the bill, or just $1.41 per $100,000 in taxable property.

REMINDER: As a reminder, qualifying residents of Monroe County pay no out-of-pocket costs related to air transport fees on Trauma Star. Last year the County mailed to residents red and white Trauma Star First Option stickers to be placed on the driver’s license or medical insurance card.

If you are a resident and did not receive a sticker, you can call 305-289-6010 or pick them up at any fire station in the Keys, at Monroe County Fire Rescue Headquarters at 490 63rd Street Ocean in Marathon or at any of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office sub-stations.

For information about the fee-waiver program and requirements for residents, go to Monroe County’s website at, click on the Resident tab, and then click on the Trauma Star link.

Fire Station Locations:

01- Key West FD, 1600 N. Roosevelt Boulevard

02- Key West FD, Corner of Simonton and Angela Streets

03- Key West FD, Corner of Kennedy and Flagler

07- Key West International Airport, 3491 South Roosevelt Boulevard

08- Stock Island, 5655 MacDonald Avenue (MM 5)

09- Big Coppitt, 28 Emerald Drive (MM10)

10- Sugarloaf, 17175 Overseas Highway (MM 17)

11- Cudjoe Key, 20950 Overseas Highway (MM 21)

13- Big Pine Key, 390 Key Deer Boulevard (MM 30.5)

14- Marathon FD, 8900 Overseas Highway (MM 50)

15- Grassy Key FD, 9805 Overseas Highway (MM 59)

17- Conch Key, 10 South Conch Avenue (MM 63)

18- Layton FD, 68260 Overseas Highway (MM 68.5)

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One thought on “BOCC Approves $2.5 Million To Purchase Helicopter for Trauma Star

  1. Well Taxpayers, it looks like your Elected BOCC stuck it to the residents of the Lower Keys Again. The CRWS is NOT Complete and Fully funded (The BOCC Lies) The voters MANDATED in 2013 to have ALL the 1(one)Cent infrastructure sales used for the above mentioned CRWS Capital Project and then AFTER for other infrastructor. So far the BOCC, in Punishing the LOOSERS(George Neugeant-commissioner disr. #2) in the CRWS have GIVEN to the St. of Florida $2.7 million, with a promise of $11.5 millions more to come from the 1(one) cent Monroe County infrastructure sales tax fund to Repair the St. of Florida’s infrastructure. Now to continue rubbing the nooses of the LOOSERS(see above) those same lyers and crooks (BOCC) have Stolen from the CRWS an additional $2.5 million to purchase a helicopter. OK,so it’s infrastructure and it belongs to Monroe County but why is the BOCC continuing to not want to Fully Fund the CRWS and follow their own rules and attempt to EXTORT(a Taking) taxpayers to give away a minimum of 100 sq. ft. of their private property and supply electricity to run the BOCC’s infrastructure??? Why Wont the BOCC follow the MANDATE of the Voters. The BOCC doesn’t give a damn what the voters want. They’re only there to take care of the fat cats and BUBBAS. NEVER re-elect an incumbent, at that point they’re only interested in getting re-elected not what the Voters want. OBTW the lawyers fees for the BOCC to defend their illegal(Misappropriations and takings) actions is coming out of my and every taxpayer in Monroe County’s pocket. That means you too in Key West and Ocean Reef. The BOCC seems to think that there’s an endlessly supply of taxpayers monies. Disgusting

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