Starflight transitioning to STAT MedEvac

The Starflight Inc. Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to transition to the STAT MedEvac service later this year.

Starflight Inc. is transitioning to STAT MedEvac, the largest single operated and dispatched air-medical transport system in the United States.

UPMC Chautauqua, W.C.A. Services and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office announced the change about the Chautauqua region’s medical helicopter service Thursday. According to officials, the Starflight Inc. Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to transition the service later this year.

“This is exciting news for our community and ensures the future of air ambulance service in Chautauqua County and the region,” said Howard Howlett Jr., board chair and one of the founders of Starflight.

STAT MedEvac is a critical care transport system and is the clinical arm of the Center for Emergency Medicine of Western Pennsylvania. STAT MedEvac operates 17 helicopter base sites in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Brian Durniok, UPMC Chautauqua acting president, said the transition once completed in mid to late summer will be a co-branding of the two entities.

“There will be a co-brand. It will still say Starflight on (the helicopter), along with Stat MedEvac,” he said. “We want to stay mindful and thoughtful of the history of Starflight to the community.”

Starflight has operated in Chautauqua County for 33 years and flew 448 flights in 2018. The Starflight board will continue to serve in an advisory capacity.

“STAT MedEvac will supply the region with state-of-the-art helicopters and equipment and will continue to be based on the campus of UPMC Chautauqua providing 24/7 coverage,” Durniok said.

James Quattrone, county sheriff, said the transition helps the Sheriff’s Office, who provides the pilots and helicopter maintenance technicians employees for Starflight helicopters, because it’s difficult to get new parts because of the age of the helicopters, which were built in the early 1990s.

“Our biggest concern is the ships we have right now is their age and the repairs that need to be done. To get parts for the helicopters, because they’re old, takes a long time,” he said. “If one goes down (State MedEvac) can supply one of their’s so we have service.”

Quattrone said the Sheriff’s Office provides 11 employees pilots and helicopter maintenance technicians for Starflight’s two helicopter operation. He said when the transition is completed to Stat MedEvac, Starflight’s employees who are interested will be interviewed by Stat MedEvac for possible job opportunities.

“Those interested, we hope they will be hired by (Stat MedEvac) and continue to fly or work on the machines,” he said. “Stat MedEvac and UPMC have been good about working with employees to help them transition.”

Durniok said Sheriff’s Office employees will have an opportunity to apply for the pilot and helicopter maintenance technicians positions with Stat MedEvac.

“When pilot and other positions are posted, we are going to be looking at local people for those opportunities if they meet Stat MedEvac’s standards,” he said.

Quattrone said he is proud the Sheriff’s Office was a founding partner of Starflight.

“We are thankful for the hard work of former Sheriff Bentley and Sheriff Gerace in starting and maintaining this life-saving service to our county,” Quattrone said. “We are grateful to our long succession of pilots and maintenance technicians for providing over three decades of service to our community and the many life-saving flights. We look forward to a continued partnership with STAT MedEvac, so we can continue providing effective service to those in our county and surrounding areas.”

George Borrello, county executive, said providing critical emergency care and transport is a key component of the quality of life in Chautauqua County.

“I am confident that STAT MedEvac’s advanced equipment and high-quality service will ensure that Starflight’s legacy of saving lives continues on for many years to come,” he said.