The service, which previously operated 24 hours a day, will now offer coverage for just 16 hours a day between 08:00hrs and midnight. The change took effect on 24 July.
VSP is now looking to fill four pilot positions at its Chesterfield and Abingdon bases, and has confirmed that the operational changes will remain in effect until these roles are filled.
While the MedFlight program fills an important niche offering free air ambulance services to the region, it is expected that private operators will fill the niche for the duration that the measures remain in place. This includes the air ambulance services operated by some local area hospitals.
Information about the positions can be found via the Virginia state government’s jobs portal, Jobs.Virginia.Gov, and training and certification of the new pilots is expected to take around one year.
Speaking to local broadcaster WRIC-TV, Julian Walker, Vice President of Communications for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, said that medical professionals were monitoring the situation for any direct impact on patients.
“Certainly, anytime that you have a staffing shortage that impacts public safety which also has an impact on public health that’s something that’s a concern,” he said. “This is a system that works comprehensively, that works together, that involves fire and EMS, that involves law enforcement and state police, that involves healthcare providers.”