NTSB Meeting To Address Helo EMS Safety
Due to a high number of fatal aeromedical accidents over the past year, the NTSB yesterday announced it will hold a public hearing on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations. The three-day hearing will begin on February 3 at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. “We have seen an alarming rise in the numbers of EMS accidents and the Safety Board believes some of these accidents could have been prevented if our recommendations were implemented,” said NTSB member and hearing chairman Robert Sumwalt. “This hearing will be extremely important because it can provide an opportunity to learn more about the industry so that possibly we can make further recommendations that can prevent these accidents and save lives.” The Safety Board issued a special investigation report on EMS operations in January 2006, but the accident record of late suggests that operators have not heeded many of the recommendations. Over the past 11 months the Safety Board has investigated nine fatal EMS accidents with 35 fatalities, and this year alone there have been seven fatal accidents with 28 fatalities.