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Seminole, Fla. Nixes Exclusive Helicopter Deal

SEMINOLE, Fla. — Plans for an exclusive contract for medical-helicopter service in Seminole County were grounded Tuesday when commissioners voted to allow two competing firms to operate within the county.

Omniflight Helicopters and Air Methods Corporation will each negotiate for a certificate of public convenience and necessity. The certificate outlines how each company will provide emergency medical service in the county, said Tad Stone, the county s public-safety director.

Last month, Stone recommended that Air Methods receive an exclusive contract for the lucrative medical service. Both companies committed to base a medical helicopter in the county, but Stone said he recommended Air Methods because it is a larger company with more resources. Officials with Omniflight, which has provided the service for more than 23 years through Orlando Regional Medical Center, questioned the need for a change.

County commissioners put off a decision last month and asked for additional information. In its additional submittal, Omniflight made clear it would base a helicopter in the county without an exclusive contract.

CONTACT: Robert P rez, Walter Pacheco, Henry Pierson Curtis and Bianca Prieto of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.