Martin Co. firefighters say crashes on Tuesday show the need for its own medical helicopter

Firefighters in Martin County are once again sounding the alarm on their need for a trauma helicopter.

For the past six months, fire and rescue have been relying on St. Lucie County's medical helicopter.
The union says what happened Tuesday shows Martin County needs its own unit.

When firefighters saw a crash involving multiple vehicles on interstate 95 Tuesday evening they called for a medical helicopter. There was one person with serious injuries.

"It would have been a quick response, a quick trip to the trauma center," says Bryan Richardson, Vice President of the Martin County Firefighters Association.

However, St. Lucie County's helicopter had to turn them down because of bad weather.  Dispatch recordings show the helicopter was requested on four crashes in Martin County from noon on Tuesday to early Wednesday morning.  It was declined all four times.

"Air rescue has declined that flight for Stuart for weather four mile visibility and rain showers," said dispatch from St. Lucie County.

Firefighters say if Martin County has its own unit it would have been okay to fly Tuesday.

"The (Martin County) Sheriff's helicopter was hovering over the scene because the northbound lane of 95 was closed," says Richardson.

Since February, Martin County has relied on St. Lucie County for its trauma helicopter.  That's when the county's contract with Air Methods ended. 

A Martin County spokesperson says the arrangement with St. Lucie County is working fine since the service lapse. The county does plan on getting another helicopter service.  But it's not fast enough for firefighters.

"We're not doing the best we can," says Richardson.

Martin County Commissioners are expected to review a new contract with a company called MedTrans at its meeting on July 15th.  A county spokesperson says they're looking for a solution that will ensure public safety and be cost effective for taxpayers.