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Ambulance decision coming

Yampa Valley Medical Center's announcement expected Monday

Scott Stanford

The Board of Trustees for Yampa Valley Medical Center will make an announcement Monday regarding the future of the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The board met Thursday to discuss the air ambulance, which crashed Jan. 11 in Rawlins, Wyo., killing three people. Hospital spokeswoman Heather Rose said the board wanted to inform the families of those involved in the crash about its decision before making a public announcement.

The Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crash is the 12th medical flight crash nationwide in the past 12 months. Thirty-seven people have died in those crashes, prompting a National Transportation Safety Board study of medical flights.

Pilot Tim Benway, 35, was killed in the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crash. Also killed were air ambulance director and flight nurse Dave Linner, 36, and flight nurse Jennifer Wells, 30. The sole survivor of the crash was Tim Baldwin, a 35-year-old emergency medical technician. Baldwin suffered from broken bones and hypothermia and was released from a Fort Collins hospital this week.

The plane went down about 2.5 miles northeast of the Rawlins Municipal Airport. The crew was en route to Rawlins to transport a motor-vehicle accident patient from Rawlins to a hospital in Casper, Wyo.

The crash was the second in less than two years for the Steamboat air ambulance. The ambulance also went down in March 2003 near Kremmling. The three people on board, including Linner, walked away from that crash with minor injuries.

Bob Maddox, who had served as chairman of the nonprofit hospital’s board of trustees for the past three years, was not involved in Thursday’s meeting. Maddox, who owns and operates Mountain Flight Service, resigned from the board to remove the possibility of conflicts of interest in determining the future of the air ambulance.

The Yampa Valley Air Ambulance is a partnership between the hospital and Mountain Flight Service. The hospital provides the medical flight crew and portable medical supplies and contracts with Mountain Flight Service to provide the plane, the pilot and the fixed supplies in the plane.

The partnership was formed in 2001. Mountain Flight Service has operated an air ambulance since 1994, and Maddox and his wife, Cindy, purchased the company in January 1997.

In the past, Maddox said, he has fully disclosed the conflict of interest between the hospital and Mountain Flight Service. When contracts were discussed, Maddox said, he was excluded from those meetings, and he did not know how the hospital fared financially with the air ambulance.


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