The aircraft – due for delivery in late 2024 to early 2025 – will replace three existing air ambulance helicopters currently operated by local helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) provider Trauma Star.
Two of the aircraft will be based at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office hangar at the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport, while the third will be operated from the Lower Keys Medical Center. Maintenance of the new aircraft will also be carried out at the Marathon base.
Trauma Star is a county-wide program operated through a partnership of Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Monroe County Fire Rescue.
The purchase of the helicopters was approved at a Board of County Commissioners meeting on 22 March 2023.
“An extensive search for a replacement aircraft was made to update Trauma Star’s aging fleet of Sikorsky S-76s with a newer, manufacturer-supported aircraft,” said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “The goal was an aircraft that would increase operating cost efficiency and reduce downtime due to unscheduled maintenance.”
Monroe County is the southernmost county in Florida, and includes the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys. The County is spread across an area of 3,737 square miles – 73 per cent of which is water – and includes large portions of the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.