From: [a friend]
Subject: Re: Who Pays for Helicopter Rescues (We Do!)
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 14:15:45 -0700
Just an FYI.
Most equestrians who use the trails and some hikers in this area (I live
in Grass Valley) pay the $35 ($42 family) yearly fee to CalStar for its
insurance. That coverage provides us an airlift from any trail in
northern California to the hospital. These insurance payments pay for
CalStar to operate.
Mt. bikers SHOULD pay this fee as well, but they need to be informed. If
they have medical insurance, some insurance companies will pick up some
of the airlift fee. But, other insurers pay nothing at all for the
substantial (I have heard $10,000 - $45,000) fee. Meaning that CalStar
will bill the patient directly.
If the patient has no insurance (a typical male, under-30 year old), or
no way to pay CalStar's or the ER/hospital/rehab fees, that is when the
public is forced to subsidize mt. biking's serious injuries. The helmet
laws here in CA were passed just because of this type of public payment
for motor cyclists who were injured.
Considering that mt. bikers (because of their downhill speed) are
seriously injured more often than hikers, equestrians, anglers, or other
trail users on public land, it would be great if they are using public
land that they would be required to show their CalStar insurance card.
But, I bet that will never happen.
>Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 15:41:58 -0700
>From: [another friend]
>Subject: Who Pays for Helicopter Rescues
>Got word from Marin County Fire Department's
>Battalion Chief Giannini regarding who pays for
>helicopter service. He says,
>"There are a number of helicopter providers that serve our area.
>The two that are utilized most often are REACH and CALSTAR.
>These organizations utilize the helicopter as an "air ambulance".
>Their primary mission is to transport critical patients to the most
>appropriate hospital with a helipad. They bill the patient's insurance
>company whenever possible. The County does not pay for any costs
>related to their use."
>[Mike, I suspect a useful scenario fitting this example would be an instance
>where someone has a heart attack in an area where the nearest hospital
>would be half an hour or more away by conventional ambulance.]
>Chief Giannini goes on to say,
>"If the patient is in an area that requires the use of a helicopter
>the patient from a remote environment, then a rescue helicopter is utilized.
>These are most often provided by the Sonoma County Sheriffs Department
>and the CHP. It is my understanding that these services do not charge
>services when they are requested to provide medical/extrication support. I do
>believe that the Sheriffs helicopter will charge a law enforcement
>agency if their
>services are requested to assist in a law enforcement effort. If the
>Sheriffs Department requested the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriffs
>helicopter to aid in the search of a suspect, I believe that Marin
>be billed for that service. The variance in the practice lies in how
>the FAA classifies
>the usage of the aircraft."
>So, it would appear that if a mountain biker seriously injures
>himself in an area that can't be reached by an ambulance, and
>a helicopter is used to "extract" him and fly him to a hospital,
>it's the taxpayer who likely has the privilege of paying for
>mountain bikers' stupidity.