Get Involved! Demand EMS Management be held Accountable! No More Mistruths, Corruption and Mismanagement!
"The Lie that Started it all Reiterated"
From: Deputy Director/ EMS Chief Kim
To: County Commissioners
In August, we determined that the current management and staff configuration at MEDSTAR would not meet our goal in operating a program based on national accreditation standards. The Director of Flight Operations was terminated. Without a Director of Flight Operations and the Chief Pilot position vacant, flight operations could not continue under our Part 135 Certificate. Entire Email
For nearly three weeks since the MEDSTAR shutdown, County and EMS managers are still not telling the truth why MEDSTAR was shutdown. It wasn't until AFTER the program was shutdown that the inappropriate billing came to light. We have provided clear, documented proof on this site showing these claims are NOT true! The taxpayers need to demand County Commissioners hold these managers accountable and reinstate the MEDSTAR program immediately!
This continues to be a blatant violation of Lee County Policy 101- Behavior of Employees, paragraph 2 subsection (v) "Use of lies, dishonesty, and/or misrepresentation in the workplace". Link to Policy 101
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). Read the email exchange between Pilot McAllister, EMS Management and the FAA for yourself here
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.
CLAIM #4: On September 11, 2012, County Manager Karen Hawes presented to the Board of County Commissioners. In her presentation, Ms. Hawes stated that on August 17th when she agreed to the shutdown of the MEDSTAR program that: “Based on the information that I received- and the apparent inability, for whatever reasons, to as yet get the pilots certified- I agreed that for the health, safety and welfare of our residents that the MEDSTAR operations would be temporarily suspended”.
TRUTH #4: The first of two FAA checkrides were scheduled for August 21st, the day the program was shutdown. Had this checkride been completed, Lee County could have began legal billing for the aircraft in question that day! EMS Management knowing the checkride was schedule on the day of the planned shutdown, directed former Director of Aviation Operations Rob Fulton to cancel the checkride the day before the shutdown. Additionally, the pilots not being certified to bill under Part 135 was NOT a "health, safety and welfare" issue, simply a billing issue. The backup helicopter Lee County has operated for over 20 years was legal to bill at the Part 135 rate. Whenever a new aircraft is purchased and at recurrent intervals thereafter, pilots are required by the FAA to perform 3-4 hours of training and a checkride. The aircraft in question was new to Lee County. Had Lee County not conducted the "Safety Stand-down" the year prior and suspended its only FAA designated company instructor pilot, the required new aircraft training and checkrides could have been completed over a year ago.
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What the Private Helicopter Costs
With the exception of Collier County’s helicopter, the other two private companies that EMS Management has reported will be providing coverage are FOR-PROFIT and charge up to $20,000 per transport. Your tax dollars that pay for MEDSTAR do NOT cover these costs….you are still paying for MEDSTAR even while it is suspended and will pay EXTRA if transported by one of the private helicopters!
“Accreditation” is something issued by a private, commonly for-profit company, when an organization meets their company’s “standards”. Helicopter medical transport accreditation is voluntary, expensive and will offers no advantage to MEDSTAR. In an ironic twist, the three private companies and county program that are currently covering Lee County while MEDSTAR is suspended are NOT accredited!
When CAMTs (the accreditation company cited by Chief Dickerson) was contact by the Naples Daily News regarding the MEDSTAR suspension, they commented…”I do not understand why county EMS officials decided to suspend the entire operation when they intended to purse the national ranking”, along with…”I don’t know what the purpose of that is, I’ve never heard of that”. Even the private accreditation company does not support Chief Dickerson and Director Wilsons actions!
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SPEAK OUT...It’s Your Tax Dollars and SAFETY
Get involved and demand EMS Management be held accountable for the lies and mismanagement of MEDSTAR and EMS by:
1. Contacting your County Commissioners:
District 1 John Manning (239) 533-2224 email@example.com
District 2 Brian Bigelow (239) 533-2227 firstname.lastname@example.org
District 3 Ray Judah (239) 533-2223 email@example.com
District 4 Tammy Hall (239) 533-2226 firstname.lastname@example.org
District 5 Frank Mann (239) 533-2225 email@example.com
2. Get involved, sign the online petition to the Lee County BoCC: