Life Guard affirms support for Tonopah

A Las Vegas-based company that provides medical transport services to the ill and injured is reaffirming its commitment to Tonopah and the region, a wide geographic area that’s been without a hospital since August 2015.

Life Guard International/Flying ICU officials say they remain committed to the area.

“We care about this community,” said Carl Bottorf, Life Guard International’s program director. “Tonopah is something we have come to understand. We love working here. We know that we have resources to offer that no one else has been willing to offer to this point.”

“We plan to continue to fly patients from here, save lives from here and be an integral part of the emergency medical community,” he said.

Bottorf expressed concerns about a Nye County Commission meeting on Feb. 7 when commissioners acted to terminate a Life Guard lease for Tonopah Airport hangar space.

At issue was the status of a Life Guard aircraft for Tonopah.

Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said that day, “Life Guard has pulled their equipment from the airport. They are housing their equipment in Las Vegas, which means they don’t need a lease on a hangar at the airport. That is all we are doing is removing the lease that they had on the hangar because they don’t have the equipment in there.”

“So no one is doing anything other than that, just taking care of a lease,” Wichman said. “It has nothing to do with the service. They are still here as they have been in the past.”

On March 15, Bottorf expressed concern about the Feb. 7 meeting.

“We feel they (county commission) were provided information to say that we had abandoned the community…” Bottorf said. “I don’t know where they got this information from, but it’s pretty clear we haven’t done that …We are not ghosts. People who abandon the community don’t save lives. We save lives.”

Also on March 15, Life Guard issued a lengthy written statement, responding to the Feb. 7 action.

Life Guard said that it has requested by official letter that Nye County commissioners withdraw the lease termination.

“Without the hangar, Life Guard will be unable to provide these services, and then the concerns of the public will be realized,” the statement read.

In an interview, Bottorf cited concerns over whether a Life Guard medical plane remained in Tonopah or had been pulled out of town.

“When we pulled our plane in August, the plane was scheduled for maintenance,” Bottorf said. “The plane had to go to North Carolina and have engine overhauls done. That is a regulation. The plane is back. The plane came back. There were delays, but it came back Feb. 7.”

Wichman said last week, “If they want to put a plane in there, they can definitely re-up their lease.”

“If they’ve got their equipment back out there, and they need a hangar, you bet we’ll help them,” Wichman also said, adding that she would be willing to listen to Life Guard concerns.