Sheriff denies Survival Flight account of events

by Todd Brooks

By Todd Brooks

When Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney heard about an issue that was addressed by Shaine Keasler, regional clinical manager of Survival Flight, at the county commissioner’s meeting on Monday morning, he was not pleased.

Keasler had said during the meeting that a 911 call in Comanche on Dec. 28 for a lift assist took a two-hour response because it was an hour before the county dispatcher informed Survival Flight of the call and then it took another hour to respond because of the high volume of calls.

“Let me get this out on the table right now, we have had no response issues with Survival Flight,” McKinney said later in a meeting Monday afternoon with local press. “Survival Flight has performed excellently in the few months they have been here. I think patient care is up a bit and I think the response times are normally good. What happened the other day (five service calls within 24 minutes) won’t probably happy again in 50 years, but it could.”

McKinney, though, did take exception to Survival’s Flight recalling of the events on that particular call.

“(Keasler) said our dispatch held a call for two hours,” McKinney said. “That is absolutely incorrect and just a bold lie. We have the document and the recordings to prove it.”

Stephens County undersheriff Bobby Bowen attended the meeting but did not say anything as he said he wanted to make sure he had all the facts straight before speaking to Survival Flight.

Bowen produced a document with the times of communication between dispatch and Survival Flight.

According to the document, the original call came in for a lift assist on Wilson Street in Comanche at 10:53 a.m. Meridian First Responders went to the call and upon arrival requested an ambulance at 11:14 a.m. The dispatcher contacted Survival Flight within the same minute and was told there were no ambulances available.

At 11:16 a.m., another call came in outside of Comanche on Highway 53. The dispatcher contacted Survival Flight and notified them they now needed two ambulances in Comanche and were put on hold.

At 11:18 a.m., Survival Flight called back to the dispatcher, apologized for hanging up, but said no EMS was available.

At 11:23 a.m., Survival Flight called dispatch again and told dispatch there was no ambulance available to respond due to being slammed with calls in Duncan.

At 11:46 a.m., 911 dispatch called Survival Flight again to request ambulances but was told none were available.

The dispatcher then calls Waurika and Walters EMS to see if one of them can respond.

McKinney said he can relate to having it take time to respond to a call. His department covers 900 square miles and right now only has two deputies on the road for shifts when it is usually three. Sometimes they have to ask the city police departments for help until they can get to the scene.

“My biggest issue this morning was him saying that we were holding calls, which is not true,” McKinney said.