A Utah company interested in bringing air ambulance service back to Steamboat Springs is waiting for a stronger commitment from area hospitals before moving forward with the licensing process.
Jim Hunt, vice president of Eagle Air Med in Blanding, Utah, said his company is not discouraged by the delay and is still working to operate from the Steamboat Springs Airport by mid-May. The company originally expected to be operating by April 16.
"We've run into some internal delays, which is to be expected when you combine aviation with the medical industry," he said. "However, we feel comfortable that it won't be too much of a problem. I think there's a misperception that because we're experiencing a delay that we're not coming. That's not correct."
If Eagle Air Med bases one of its King Air C90B twin-engine turboprop air ambulances in Steamboat, it would mark a return of service that was discontinued in January 2005 after the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crashed near Rawlins, Wyo., killing three people.
Hunt said his company is "trying to get more of a commitment from (The Memorial Hospital in Craig) than they're willing to give" before Eagle Air Med begins the licensing process with the city of Steamboat Springs.
Karl Gills, Yampa Valley Medical Center's chief executive officer, has said he would be "pleased" to have air ambulance service because it will "return the local availability of emergency patient transfer" and "put (the hospital) at a higher level of service than most rural hospitals in the state and nation."
George Rohrich, The Mem-orial Hospital's chief executive officer, did not return calls seeking comment.
Hunt said Eagle Air Med is asking Craig officials to "firm up" their level of commitment to using the service, he said.
Eagle Air Med also has discussed the service with medical facilities in Grand and Rio Blanco counties and Wyoming.
Airport Manager Mel Baker said the city cannot move forward with the license and permit process to base Eagle Air Med out of the airport until the company presents its proposal for operation to the city.
Baker said it could be a challenge to get the appropriate recommendations from the Yampa Valley Airport Commission on a Steamboat Springs City Council agenda before the middle of April or May. The City Council would make a final decision regarding the permits, he said.
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