Florida Keys officials consider spending $52 million on new medical helicopters

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Monroe County is considering shelling out up to $52 million to replace their 22-year-old Trauma Star Helicopters that take patients from the Keys to trauma hospitals in Miami-Dade County.

Their current helicopters are no longer being manufactured.

It’s about 17 minutes by air to Jackson Memorial Hospital from the Upper Keys, and under an hour from Key West.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says the Keys have one of the busiest air ambulance services in the country.

The sheriff’s office says most air ambulance programs transport about 260 patients a year, but in the Florida Keys, more than 1,400 patients were flown in 2021.

On the commission agenda for Wednesday, the board will consider making the massive purchase.

The county says the money would be coming from the already-approved infrastructure sales tax that is paid mostly from tourism.

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.