- Tuesday, June 12, 2007, 6 p.m.
- Steamboat Springs Airport, 3495 Airport Circle, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs A Utah company plans to bring air ambulance service to Steamboat Springs in early winter, two years after local service was discontinued in the wake of a crash that killed three people.
Jim Hunt, vice president of Eagle Air Med in Blanding, Utah, said Monday medical and aviation red tape has slowed his company's arrival at the Steamboat Springs Airport.
"We do have a hangar secured, and we have a basic fuel arrangement with city," he said. "We have a hanger. Really, all the major components (are) in place."
Airport Manager Mel Baker, who's scheduled to appear before the Yampa Valley Airport Commission on Thursday to update the board on Eagle Air Med's licensing progress, said he has yet to see a proposal from the company.
"The latest information we've had is that they will be here sometime late in the fall," he said. "As of now, there's nothing new. We are just waiting on the license application."
Eagle Air Med's President Joseph Hunt said in March he hoped to have service of a King Air C90B twin-engine turboprop air ambulance ready by April 16. He later said the company would begin service by mid-May.
Hunt said Monday that Eagle Air Med initially delayed service because the company was waiting for a stronger commitment from area hospitals. An operating agreement recently was signed with Yampa Valley Medical Center, but the new delay is due to a lack of personnel and aircraft.
The company has yet to sign agreements with medical facilities in Rawlins, Wyo., or with The Memorial Hospital in Craig, but Hunt said the company will continue to negotiate with those facilities as it begins service in Steamboat Springs.
"It's not absolutely essential to have agreements," he said. "But you've got to be worried about competing services coming into the area with deeper pockets."
Air ambulance service halted after a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crashed Jan. 11, 2005, near Rawlins, Wyo., in wintry weather. Three of the Steamboat Springs-based crew, including a pilot and two medical personnel, died during the accident. A fourth crewmember survived the crash but sustained serious injuries.
Medical patients continue to be flown from Yampa Valley Medical Center to other facilities around the state by air ambulances out of Denver, but the trip often takes up to three hours to reach Steamboat Springs.
Yampa Valley Airport Commission Board Member Mike Forney said an air ambulance service based at Steamboat Springs Airport would cut response time to 15 to 20 minutes.
"It's awfully important for citizens to have an air ambulance based out of Steamboat Springs," he said. "If you reach them in that first 'golden hour,' then you have a substantially better chance in treating them."
Eagle Air Med's license application must be approved by the City Council. Forney said the commission would recommend the company's approval.
"We are highly supportive of a new air ambulance coming in," he said. "We've missed the service we have had in the past."
City Councilman Ken Benner said Monday the council has yet to receive a license proposal from Eagle Air Med.
"I think it would be a great service to have, but I haven't heard anything about it," he said.
Hunt said a proposal will be submitted once logistical details and paperwork are completed.
"I think we are in pretty good shape," he said. "We'll be working with Mel (Baker) so we can get it on the (City Council) agenda and get it approved."