RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia State Police has temporarily reduced the operating hours for its Med-Flight helicopter service in central and southwest Virginia due to a shortage of pilots.
State police said until more pilots can be hired and trained, the service has been reduced from 24-hour coverage to 16 hours per day, from 8 a.m. through midnight, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The changes went into effect on Sunday.
In the meantime, private, for-hire air ambulance services such as those offered by VCU Health Systems and HCA Hospitals will fill the gap in the Richmond area. Med-Flight is free of charge, but the private services bill patients for the transport. In most cases, the fee is covered by a patient’s health care insurance.
Traditionally, sworn state police officers have piloted Med-Flight helicopters, but civilian pilots have been employed in the past and the shortage has opened hiring to civilians.
The state has posted job listings seeking pilots for the Med-Flight programs based in Chesterfield County and Abingdon.