EASTON — After months of uncertainty concerning the fate of the Trooper 6 medevac station in Easton, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday the base will remain operational despite the Board of Public Works’ previous vote to slice its funding among a scad of other pandemic-spurred, statewide budget cuts.
Hogan’s announcement came in response to the results of an independent helicopter basing study on which state leaders were waiting to determine the impact of a Trooper 6 closure.
The study, according to a news release from the governor’s office, found that the base’s elimination would “significantly and negatively affect both the response rate and the response time” of emergency personnel deploying by helicopter.
“Analysts estimated that closing one base would decrease the response rate to less than 83 percent and increase response time by eight minutes,” Hogan’s news release stated. The current response rate from all bases is at least 95% and response time is within 25 minutes.
Trooper 6, which primarily serves Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties, is one of two state police helicopter sections on the Shore, and one of seven in all of Maryland. The Shore’s second base, Trooper 4, is in Salisbury.
The Easton base’s central location allows rescue crews to transport patients by helicopter to Baltimore’s Shock Trauma Center in 20 minutes and Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury in 15 minutes, according to the Maryland State Police website.
Hogan said the MSP Aviation Command, which operates the state’s seven helicopter sections, has been conducting lifesaving Medevac flights for more than 50 years. The governor’s administration, he said, is “committed to making sure Maryland’s Finest have all the resources they need to continue their excellent service to the state and the region.”
The BPW’s undoing of the $1.3 million cut to MSPAC its three members approved in July initially came in response to backlash from Shore residents and lawmakers who said the helicopter station’s closure would jeopardize the rural region’s safety when it comes to those in need of emergency medical care.
Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore, said in a statement Wednesday that the public’s participation in fighting to keep the helicopter base was a “difference-maker as we spoke with the Governor and Budget Secretary (David Brinkley) about the importance of these lifesaving helicopters.”
Talbot County Councilwoman Laura Price said she was “certainly pleased” to learn the Easton station would be staying open.
“These resources are critical to Talbot County and the Mid-Shore,” she said. “Working together with our emergency medical services teams, the MSP helicopters save lives by delivering critical patients to specialty care quickly.”
Of the MSPAC bases’ dodging closure, State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow Jones III said, “Based on the governor’s commitment to do all we can to provide the best in public safety services, the Maryland State Police will keep all bases open and all helicopters in the current fleet.”
“We look forward to continuing our work in partnership with Maryland’s first responders and hospital providers,” Jones said.