Council Approves LifeFlight Station at Airport
January 8, 2015
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  • MURFREESBORO – A medical helicopter crew will be based at the Municipal Airport, the City Council decided Thursday night. “This agreement allows for a Vanderbilt LifeFlight station to be based in Murfreesboro,” Airport Manager Chad Gehrke said as he read his letter to the seven-member council.

    “Besides providing a time saving link for our citizens to trauma centers in Nashville, this agreement with Air Methods will base several highly trained pilots and flight nurses at the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport.”

    The city is gaining a helicopter base of service relocating from Smyrna Airport, and the new location should be ready in about 90 days, said Mark Tankersley, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center flight nurse who will be part of the Air Methods operation in Murfreesboro.

    “Rutherford County is one of our biggest requesters,” Tankersley said after the council approved the agreement to bring the medical helicopter crew here.

    The base coming to Murfreesboro will have the high-standard single-engine medical helicopter, Tankersley added.

    The council agreed with the Murfreesboro Airport Commission recommendation on Monday in accepting a 36-month arrangement for the base in a lease that can be renewed twice to extend the service for 24 additional months.

    “I think it’s a positive move,” Vice Mayor Doug Young said.
    Mayor Shane McFarland thanked the representatives of Air Methods and Vanderbilt after the vote.

    “We look forward to having you be a part of Murfreesboro,” McFarland said.
    The agreement calls for Air Methods to either pay in advance an annual lease of $26,750 or $2,300 per month, which would total $27,600 for one year. The annual rent shall increase by 3 percent for each year beginning at the anniversary of the lease term.

    “This lease agreement helps to build a wonderful partnership for the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport and the city of Murfreesboro, which allows Air Methods and the Vanderbilt Life Flight operations to be based at (the airport),” Gehrke said in his letter.

    The approved commercial operations could include:

    • staging and operating one helicopter for emergency medical transport services
    • providing maintenance and maintenance of facilities for helicopter
    • quarters for up to six crew persons for flight availability
    • training of flight crew and medical crew as periodically required

    “It will, hopefully, also lead to other relationships in our community such as partnerships with students enrolled in the various maintenance and dispatch programs in the aerospace department at Middle Tennessee State University,” Gehrke said in his letter.

    The base for the Life Flight will be on a half acre on the northeast corner of what was previously known as McKnight Park.
    he city will be providing the base with an access road, water, sewer and electric utitilies, and a fence around the operation to keep it secure, Gehrke added.

    Open mic

    In addition to the agreement for the medical helicopter crew, Councilman Rick LaLance called for a vote to move the non-televised open-mic public comment meeting time to 6:45 p.m. from 6:30 p.m. for the first Thursday meeting of each month. The motion passed 5-2.

    LaLance suggested the time change because the number of speakers had declined, but he did say he’d like to enable at least nine speakers at three minutes each rule to speak because that’s about how many could speak between 6:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. start of the regular meeting.

    City Attorney Susan McGannon said the council can delay the start of the 7 p.m. meeting to accommodate the speakers.

    Councilmen Eddie Smotherman and Bill Shacklett opposed the time change because they want to public-comment period to be part of the televised 7 p.m. meeting.

    “We should allow for voices to be heard by as many people as possible,” Smotherman said.

    Council Ron Washington, however, said he opposed putting the open mic on television for fear that people with an agenda would show up.

    “I don’t want this to be a circus,” Washington said. “That is not what I am for. I don’t want to open that door period. That’s not what that special meeting is for. That is not what I am for.”

    Contact Scott Broden at 615-278-5158 or Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden.