State police reducing med-flight service hours due to pilot shortage
The 24-hour operation has been cut to 16 hours
CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Almost all mid-air travel is affected by nationwide pilot shortages, including medic flights through Virginia State Police.
According to State Police, the Med-Flight programs in the Chesterfield and Abingdon regions are temporarily reducing coverage to just 16 hours a day instead of its typical 24-hour service operation.
The VSP Med-Flight will now operate from 8 am. to midnight with an eight-hour lapse. In a press release, the Southwest Virginia EMS Council says multiple private entities provide for-hire air ambulance services in both regions, which will be able to handle calls for services during the hours VSP Med-Flight is unavailable.
Old Dominion Medical System Alliance is one of several that assists in operating EMS transportation in central Virginia. Systems director Heidi Hooker says there are enough private air medical services. She says personal air ambulance services are frequently called to pick up patients if they can get to a nearby hospital quickly or when VSP Med-flight is in use.
“The private air ambulance services already are integrated into the Richmond-metro region’s emergency medical plan,” Hooker said.
Unlike Med-Flight, which is free, private entities bill patients for the transport. However, in most cases, the fee is covered through health insurance. But Hooker says the cost a patient might incur is never a factor on which entity picks up a patient in need,
“We normally want to get the closest available unit there anyway,” Hooker said. “More importantly, it’s which air service is closer to the scene to get the patient to the hospital the quickest.”
VSP expects to return to its typical 24-hour service once it can refill those pilot positions. VSP has job listings for aircraft pilots in the Chesterfield and Abingdon region. Those interested can apply HERE.
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