West Texas Air Ambulance Violations Revealed

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS - A concerned viewer tipped us off to look into Amarillo-based O'Hara Flying Service and their medical wing, Air Ambulance Stat.

In one of the West Texas areas they provide service to, it went public in February 2012 that they violated four state EMS rules and were fined more than $3,000.

Three days ago, NewsWest 9 did a story interviewing officials from other towns that use the service, like Pecos, who said they weren't worried because it didn't happen there and sometimes violations can just be minute details.

"I know there was one violation that incurred because the ambulance had a big bottle of hand sanitizer in the front of the ambulance where the driver is," Mayor of the City of Pecos, Venetta Seals, said in a past interview.

To find out the violations and get his side of the story, NewsWest 9 called O'Hara's owner, Clay Dixon, three days ago and he refused to comment.

So we filed an Open Records Request with the Texas Department of State Health Services and received 15 pages of reports.

The inspection report said back in April, 2011, an EMS freightliner at Alpine Casparin Airport was found missing supplies like an infection control kit, an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) as well as AED and defibrillation pads and an emergency response guidebook.

The liner was also completely missing the required drugs Furosemide, treating inflammation, Nalbuphine, a painkiller and the nausea and vomiting controller, Vistaril, among other drugs.

But that's balanced out by the liner having drugs like Solu-Medrol, Zofran and Dramamine, drugs that are not required but perform similar treatments.

O'Hara's notice of violation came at the end of January 2012 and by February they had admitted to the allegations and paid the fine in full, waiving their right to an administrative appeal hearing.

As for other counties that use their service like Reeves County, they said the planes they use have never suffered any problems and they have no intention of dropping the service.

They said any violations must be taken in the light of whether or not they threatened anyone's care.

"Does something like that really compromise the care that is being given and I think that's the question that really needs to be asked," Seals said in a past interview.

So far, the reports NewsWest 9 studied never indicated that someone's life was threatened by these violations.