Trauma Star Air Ambulance
Trauma Star has bases in Marathon and Key West, both staffed around the clock to be ready for launch at a moment’s notice. Trauma Star’s primary mission is to provide emergency helicopter transportation for individuals who are critically injured either by natural causes such as heart attacks or stroke, or by other causes such as a vehicle crash or criminal action.
Monroe County owns and operates Trauma Star. The service is a joint effort of Monroe County Fire Rescue and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Trauma Star is the only air ambulance service in Monroe County. Since the program began in 2001, Trauma Star has transported more than 5,000 patients to critical care not available in the Keys.
Safe, rapid air transport is critical in the “Golden Hour," the 60-minute window when the human body can compensate for injury. After that, the chances for recovery diminish significantly.
For an island chain that is isolated from the mainland by distance and a busy single highway, Trauma Star saves critical minutes for patients to receive life-saving interventions. These precious minutes saved decrease the loss of heart and brain tissue, which reduces or eliminates permanent disabilities.
Monroe County Trauma Star is committed to providing the highest quality air ambulance transport care. Each helicopter can transport up to two critically injured or ill patients at a time. Trauma Star is staffed with highly-trained flight nurses, flight Firefighter/Paramedics, and helicopter pilots. Hiring requirements exceed industry standards and Trauma Star’s safety record is exemplary.
Trauma Star’s response is initiated through the emergency 911 system, and the helicopter often times will land at the accident scene to provide the quickest response to qualified medical facilities in South Florida.
No Out-of-Pocket Costs for Monroe County Residents
There are no out-of-pocket costs for County residents who use the life-saving service. In the past, private air ambulances in the Keys have charged County residents tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for transport to mainland hospitals.
View the application form for the resident fee waiver (PDF). If you qualify for the resident fee waiver, Monroe County will continue to seek reimbursement from any private insurance companies, but any remaining unpaid fees will be waived.
Trauma Star Operates in the Black
Trauma Star is operating in the black despite no out-of-pocket costs for County Residents. The program’s operational cost was $6.6 million for Fiscal Year 2018. With an aggressive in-house collection program, Trauma Star has collected $7.9 million. In FY 2017, Trauma Star also operated in the black with $5.6 million in revenues and $4.7 million in operation costs.