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Medical Transport Helicopter Denied Landing in San Jose

  • Nosara Patient Had to Wait Until Morning to Be Transferred
  • Aviation Says It Was a Misunderstanding

Por Arianna McKinney
04/24/13

So far this year, Dr. Alejandro Gutierrez said he has transported about 10 patients to hospitals by air when an ambulance just might not be fast enough. But on April 12, the helicopter that was coming to pick up a patient with an irregular heart problem was denied landing to fuel up at Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose.

It was about 6:30 p.m. and the patient, whose last name is Gurtner, of Swiss nationality residing in Garza, was in serious condition with cardiac arrhythmia. The patient felt dizzy and had passed out earlier at the bank. Gutierrez, from Nosara’s Paradise Medical Center, felt that transportation by ambulance would be too long and difficult for the patient, so he decided to call for an air transfer. The first company he called said they couldn’t do it, but CarmonAir Charter LTDA said they would do everything possible to transport the patient.   

Everardo Carmona, who owns the charter company along with his father, explained that The General Direction of Civil Aviation (DGAC-Direccion General de Aviacion Civil) does not allow them to store fuel for safety reasons, and the aircraft that had come from a flight in La Fortuna needed to refuel, but in Pavas RECOPE (Oil Refinery of Costa Rica) closes at 6 p.m. so the only fueling option available that late at night is at the Santamaria airport.

Carmona related that they called the department of operations of DGAC to explain that they were undertaking an emergency medical flight and were assured of support. However, when the helicopter’s captain, Jose Leiva, communicated with air traffic controller Marco Lopez, the controller indicated that the heliport was closed.

Carmona maintains that they have never had this type of problem before with other nighttime medical transfers since helicopters can land anywhere such as on a lot or a patio, and since it is a medical transport it should be given priority, but in this case the controller denied permission to land and indicated that if they chose to land it would be on their own responsibility, which the company could not do for insurance reasons. 

“What is of concern here is why a controller, knowing and having information that it is a medical transfer, if he is informed and even though he knows, why didn’t he call a supervisor or assistant to consult and see what to do instead of giving a negative response,” Carmona expressed.

Carmona filed a formal denunciation with DGAC, noting that it was a medical transportation and asking who would be responsible if the patient had died. 

Nayuribe Vargas Briceño, spokesperson for DGAC, said they have reviewed the audio files from the control tower and it appears to be “a misunderstanding.” She indicated that the air traffic controller was told that it was a medical transfer but that the pilot never declared that it was an emergency.

“It’s stressful,” Dr. Gutierrez related. “He needed to be transferred as soon as possible.”  

Meanwhile, Gutierrez stayed with the patient at his office taking care of him, and cardiovascular surgeon who is a neighbor of the patient also spent a while with them. Fortunately during the course of the night, the patient became more stable, and at 5 a.m. the helicopter was able to transport him to the CIMA hospital in San Jose, where studies are being conducted to find out what was happening with his heart.    

 

More community news

Dredging of Nosara River Worries Santa Teresa Residents

While work on the Nosara River started on April 24 with a corresponding budget of 300 million colones ($600,000) for the first stage, under the supervision of the construction company HHB Consa, the dredging ran into two obstacles: first with the arrival of rainy season, which could affect and even detain the work, and second an area resident is doing his own dredging along part of the river’s edge, with the risk of affecting the community of Santa Teresa. 

Medical Transport Helicopter Denied Landing in San Jose

So far this year, Dr. Alejandro Gutierrez said he has transported about 10 patients to hospitals by air when an ambulance just might not be fast enough. But on April 12, the helicopter that was coming to pick up a patient with an irregular heart problem was denied landing to fuel up at Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose.

Nosara Red Cross Ranks 4th Nationally

The Nosara Red Cross announced that their auxiliary committee received recognition on March 9, placing third in Guanacaste and fourth nationally in the 2012 Annual Operative Program (PAO), out of a total of 120 Red Cross committees. Hojancha ranked first, Santa Cruz second and Moravia third.

CREAR Library in Samara Will Try to Have a National Registration

With all the space Crear Association have onsite in their library they have re-introduced the public library to the community. With a bright new sign and the doors wide open, they have drawn in dozens of new visitors, including international students at Intercultura as well as the local students at Mareas Homeschool.

Nosara’s Library Extends Hours in April

These past three months of this year have been a time of collecting the monies necessary for the budget of the library for 2013. 

Doctor Working with Red Cross Provides Better First Aid in Nosara

The Nosara Red Cross now counts on the assistance of Dr. Yennifer Jimenez, who came to live in Nosara in November and is volunteering a minimum of 20 hours per month to attend to accidents and emergency situations prior to hospitalization. 

Rebuilding Lives Has Started Since the Earthquake

With government help and donations from the community, Jeniffer Ramirez and her husband, Freddy Brenes Chaves started to rebuild their home this past Wednesday April 10.

Clown Kidnapper Spotted in Santa Marta

Twelve-year-old Jonathan was on his way home from school, walking with another boy, when a black minivan with tinted windows started following them and caught up with them, driving slowly to keep pace with the boys.

“I’m not moved by skeptics”, Alvin Rosenbaum New NCA President

Alvin Rosenbaum, who officially assumed the role of president of the Nosara Civic Association (NCA) on April 1, has built a career around defending civil rights and finding practical solutions to problems around the world as a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.

Challenges Mount for Putting Samara Maritime Zone in Order

With slow progress being made on the new Samara-Carrillo regulatory plan, the situation for those who live, own property or hold concessions in the Maritime Land Zone (ZMT-Zona Marítimo Terrestre) is still unsure.

Lifeguard Workshop Being Organized In Memory of Lost Surfer Alvaro Duran Ribas

“I could either die from the pain or transform my love for him and honor his life and do something to avoid similar situations for other mothers,” said Sandra Ribas, the mother of Alvaro Duran Ribas, who disappeared in the waters of Guiones in April 2011.

Nosara Neighbors Send Letters about Robberies to Vice Minister of Security

Members of the Nosara community were disappointed by remarks apparently made by Vice Minister of Security Celso Gamboa Sanchez in response to a news program aired on Channel 7 on March 4 about thefts in Nosara, sparking a letter writing campaign to inform him of the real situation.

Domestic Violence in Nosara Case Turns into Drug Bust

When the Nosara Public Force responded to a 911 call regarding a case of domestic violence, they found much more, including drugs, firearms and half a million colones ($1000) in cash.

ADIN Named New Members and Approved Lot Donation for a Senior Citizen Center

On March 9 at 4 p.m. an extraordinary assembly was held by the Nosara Integral Development Association (ADIN) to replace some members of the board of directors. The meeting was attended by 74 neighbors, which was a good attendance in the opinion of the organizers.

Care Network Almost Ready

The Canton of Nicoya will soon be able to count on the second Care Network in the province of Guanacaste thanks to the construction of a 800-square-meter building, now about 90% complete. 

Nosara’s Firefighters Put Down 24 Fires This Dry Season

Although some people were not pleased to find the road to Ostional blocked this Saturday March 30, they had no other choice than to wait until the members of the Nosara firefighters finished their Easter weekend practicing medical, vertical rescue and firefighting training at the Rio Montaña Bridge.

Camera Took a Tour Through The Passion of Christ Parade And Easter Service By Nosara River

As the Guanacaste wind was filling the eyes of the attendants with dust on the morning of Holy Friday, tens of members of Nosara Catholic Church started walking the streets of the town slowly in celebration of resurrection of Christ.

 


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