CREATED Sep. 24, 2012
LEE COUNTY - Tonight, more fallout over the Medstar mess. Estero Fire and Rescue firing back after county officials said they made a mistake by calling a helicopter to transport victims of a car crash. Estero says they were only following protocol. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has more.
A billing scandal grounded Lee County's Medstar program. Since then, the county has been accused of mishandling responses to emergencies.....and now officials are starting to point fingers at each other.
Officials at Estero Fire Rescue not too happy after being accused of making a mistake by requesting the help of a helicopter after a serious collision.
It happened early Friday, when 2 teens struck a power pole with their truck. Both were critically injured, requiring extrication. Estero's paramedics requested Lee County to send a helicopter. This is where problems began.
When Estero Fire Rescue arrived at the crash scene they wanted to call Medstar but the program was grounded so they reached out to Aeromed,a company Lee County hired as a backup but their chopper was broken. That's when they called Bayflite in Sarasota and Collier County's Medflite as well. But by that time the teens were ready to be transported to the hospital by ambulance.
But now public safety officials claim a helicopter wasn't even necessary in this case since..."The incident did not meet the Lee County Guidelines for Air Transport....because a chopper is only sent for patients that exceed a ground transport time of 30 minutes."
That has Estero Fire Rescue firing back.....saying: "In accordance with Air Transport Guidelines, Estero Fire Rescue immediately requested air medical transport due to the nature of the crash."
Records show it took up to 28 minutes just to extricate both crash victims. Former Medstar pilot, Arnold MacAllister, says according to county protocol; a helicopter would have been sent since the injuries were so critical.
Arnold MacAllister: "Could've landed there and shut down at the scene and waited for them to be extricated. The helicopter could have been launched in probably 5 or 6 minutes."
But since Medstar was not available, the scene was utter confusion and records show after the first 9-1-1 call was made it took 53 minutes to get the second patient to the hospital.
We tried confronting Public Safety Director John Wilson at his office.....but at this point, he's not talking. After trying to speak with Wilson we received another statement from his office. Asserting they handled the Estero crash according to county policy. But no one from his office would agree to an interview.