‘Life or death program’

Busy week for Trauma Star

Photo: Monroe County Sheriff's Office

It’s been a busy week for everyone in the Keys, but especially for law enforcement and emergency services workers on the road, on the water and in the sky. Eleven people were airlifted to Miami hospitals via Monroe County’s Trauma Star air ambulances Saturday alone within a 24-hour period. One of them was an 11-year-old boy who was severely injured after falling off a boat near Boca Chica Key and colliding with the propeller. Other accidents this week involved a head-on crash on the Seven Mile Bridge Monday, which resulted in three people being airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

“This is a life or death program and I’m very proud of it,” said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay, adding this is a trying, difficult and congested time in the Keys, with a steady flow of traffic on land and sea for lobster mini season.

“Most of the accidents and crashes we have are avoidable – it comes down to operator error and people making poor decisions which adversely affect other people’s lives,” he said. “We always wish people would have more patience.”

Trauma Star is on track to do 1,000 flights by the end of the 2018 fiscal year on Sept. 30, and is set to make about $1.4 million in profit from its missions.

“It’s hard to believe how many flights we’re flying. We probably have the most flights of any county, even Miami-Dade, because of our geographical location,” he said.

For Monroe County residents, an airlift by Trauma Star is free. Fees paid by non-residents keep it that way, Ramsey said.

Last year, the county brought in about $817,000 in profits.

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