EMS pilot wins appeal on suspension

EMS pilot wins appeal on suspension

24-Aug-2011 Source: HeliHub.com

A Collier County EMS pilot suspended in July for leaving his running helicopter has won his appeal.  Mark Holmes was suspended without pay July 28 and ordered to complete a safety course and pass a test before returning to work, which he immediately passed.

The suspension involved an incident on July 14, when Holmes was seen on TV footage walking outside his running EC135 helicopter on US 41 North, at an incident where a pedestrian had been hit by a car.  Holmes contended he was trying to warn a ground ambulance crew to stay clear of the rotor disc.

Last week, Chief Pilot Steve Adams told Holmes he’d overturned the discipline, that he’d get backpay and a note placed on file to say he should have alerted his supervisor as to the circumstances of getting out of a running helcopter.

There is, however “history” here..  In June, a jury awarded Holmes $70,000 for his whistleblower and retaliation lawsuit against his employers. After working for Collier County for 13 years, Holmes told the court that EMS Chief Jeff Page wanted to “destroy” his career after he blew the whistle on workplace safety, maintenance and management concerns.  Holmes testified he was demoted, forced to take out trash, stuff files and other menial tasks. Page has since announced his retirement after 30 years of service, and leaves this week with his deputy Walter Kopka taking interim charge until a new chief is officially appointed.

William P Johnson, HeliHub.com US correspondent

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