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STAT MedEvac to end Hagerstown-based operations

Helicopters were often Franklin Co. emergency officials' first choice

Helicopters were often Franklin Co. emergency officials' first choice

October 14, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

TRI-STATE -- STAT MedEvac will end its Hagerstown-based operations Monday, affecting the availability of helicopters to transport patients in medical emergencies, a company spokesman said.

STAT MedEvac officials said requests for services have decreased as local hospitals improve technology and services.

"The need for air medical transports to larger, tertiary care hospitals has decreased as a result," spokesman Daniel Nakles wrote in an e-mail.

The service has been based at Hagerstown Regional Airport since 2005, Nakles said.

Franklin County (Pa.) 911 Coordinator Brian Stevenson received notification of STAT MedEvac's decision from the Hagerstown site coordinator.

"To be honest with you, I was shocked," he said.

The Hagerstown helicopters were often Franklin County emergency officials' first choice because their proximity meant shorter flight times, Stevenson said.

Nakles said STAT MedEvac will continue to operate its Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and York, Pa., bases to serve the region. All together STAT MedEvac operates 17 bases.

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Stevenson said medical transport helicopters can also be called from Hershey and Carlisle in Pennsylvania through the Life Lion service.

Helicopters help in the most critical situations and in remote parts of the region, from which an hourlong ambulance ride could cause a patient's condition to deteriorate.

Nakles would not say how many flights departed from Hagerstown on average, but he said there has been "a significant decrease over the past year."

Stevenson said Franklin County's calls for helicopters can be as frequent as every day, or several days can pass without requests.

Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association President Glenn Fishack said emergency responders in the Hagerstown area generally call Maryland State Police helicopters because they don't bill for services.

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