LeeFlight lifts off, replaces MEDSTAR

Julian Glover

New LeeFlight crew poses for a picture to celebrate a new beginning

LeeFlight lifts off, replaces MEDSTAR

CREATED Aug. 1, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug. 1, 2013

 FORT MYERS, Fla. - Today the permanent replacement for MEDSTAR emergency medical air service is finally taking off. 

The new medevac company, LeeFlight., official took over responsibilities at 11a.m. after Lee county went without its own emergency medical air services for about a year.

The old service operated by MEDSTAR was shutdown in August of last year after concerns with safety standards and overall costs. 

A Tampa-based company covered emergency air support during the interim period. 

LeeFlight is the result of a public-private partnership between Lee County and the leading air medical transport company, Air Methods Corp. 

"It's a new beginning for Lee County and for our partnership with Lee County and air methods," said Alana Scalia, Regional Clinical Manager, Air Methods Corp. 

A new beginning that comes with a welcomed savings to taxpayers. 

"Air methods, the vendor of choice, is at risk for this," said Scott Tuttle, Chief of EMS.

"They'll do patient billing and patient collections."

This saves the taxpayers big bucks because the county will no longer cover the cost of medevac services, it's now up to the person receiving the care and their insurance to foot the bill. 

This transfer of responsibility and costs will save the county an estimated $2 million. 

The new emergency medical air team, mixed with old crew members from MEDSTAR and new medics spent the majority of the day stocking the chopper with supplies and preparing for the unexpected. 

"I'm just looking to get out there and help the citizens of Lee County and whoever else might need the helicopter," said Jerry Andrews, flight nurse.