Mammoth agency under fire for emergency helicopter landing at community center

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San Manuel Miner

On June 11, 2014, a meeting was held at the Mammoth Volunteer Fire Department to discuss issues involving the landing of a medical emergency helicopter at the Mammoth Community Center on June 6. Concerned citizens, members of the fire department, fire district board members, and representatives from Native Air were in attendance.

Rudy Romo who lives across the street said there were a few children at the entrance of the community center where the chopper landed. Vehicles were parked in the area with people waiting to enter the swimming pool. Kids were shielding themselves from the debris and dust. He went on to say that they could have landed at the cemetery where they have landed before.

“This incident can’t be overlooked and anyone involved should be reprimanded,” Romo said.

The regular landing place for helicopters is the soccer field.

Rene Romo said it was “a bad judgment call”. The problem could have been compounded by children getting hurt. He did not blame Native Air, saying they have always done a good job. The blame was directed to an administrator who made the decision to land there.

During the meeting no one would give the name of the administrator who directed the landing of the air ambulance.

The acting Fire Chief Michael Miranda and fire board members said they could not answer any questions about the transportation of the patient due to Federal law. Miranda was the EMT that had responded to the emergency call.

Native Air representatives talked about their top safety rating and that they took all precautions before deciding to land the helicopter. The fire district board made it clear that Native Air was not at fault. Blame was directed to the board member who directed the landing.

The fire board members in attendance were Juan Ponce and Alvaro Anaya.

Someone asked the question, “Does the board have a protocol on who directs the helicopter to land?” The response was that it is usually the EMT but any firefighter can land the air ambulance.

Juan Ponce said, “We don’t want this incident to be a black mark against the fire department but against the administrator that made the decision.” The board members said that their job is administration and they shouldn’t be out on the fire calls directing staff in doing their jobs.

The question was asked if the reason they had called the air ambulance to land at the community center was due to no land ambulance being available to transport the patient to the regular landing spot at the soccer field. No answer could be given.

What wasn’t brought up at the meeting was that the patient died before he could be transported to a medical facility. This incident is under investigation.

John Hernandez (349 Posts)

John Hernandez lives in Oracle. He is retired and enjoys writing and traveling. He is active in the Oracle Historical Society. He covers numerous public events, researches historical features and writes business/artist profiles.

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