Jeff Hensel leaves the same voicemail every July 23. “Today is the anniversary of my accident,” the 25-year-old Northern Illinois resident reminds people, as if those listening might actually forget that day in 1999 when his car slammed into a tree. “If it weren’t for Flight For Life and a lot of people who took care of me, I would not be here today.”
The patient was killed and the three crewmembers injured when their Air Evac Lifeteam Bell 206 crashed April 20 about 30 miles northeast of Evansville, Ind. According to an FAA preliminary report, the engine quit in flight. It was not immediately known if weather, described as good visibility under an overcast, was a factor in the accident. Air Evac Lifeteam is based in West Plains, Mo., and currently has 39 bases in 12 states.
Southwest Nebraska will receive its first-ever air ambulance in May–a Bell 407 operated by MedStar. Under current arrangements, hospitals or EMS agencies have to summon airborne services that are based nearly 100 miles away. The new flight service will be permanently based at McCook, Neb.
From a safety perspective, last year was not a good year for the air medical sector. A spate of fatal accidents has led to much media speculation about the safety record of U.S. air ambulances and even the medical benefits of using them so (apparently) freely. It has also further tarnished a deteriorating rate apparent in statistics from previous years.
A New Zealand air ambulance trust has bought a second Sikorsky S-76 to meet a growing demand for emergency medical flights in Auckland. The Northland Emergency Services Trust expects the helicopter to enter service at its Whangarei base in the first quarter of this year.
Ten months ago all 16 of England’s and Wales’ air ambulances created the Association of Air Ambulance Charities (AAAC) to lobby the government to consider the needs of the air ambulance community. The AAAC argues that the lives and money the group saves warrant it some influence.
One of the helicopters gracing Eurocopter’s static display here at the Paris Air Show is a bright red-and-yellow EC 135 belonging to Norsk Luftambulanse (Norwegian Air Ambulance). The air medical helicopter is the company’s eighth EC 135. It also operates three BO 105 CBS helicopters and has an EC 145 on order, with delivery expected in October.
Among the 13 national and industry pavilions here at Dubai 2005 is one representing a group of aviation specialists from Austria. A strong VIP delegation from the country includes senior government officials, its ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and the embassy’s commercial attaché.
Several major hospitals in India have sought permission to launch helicopter emergency medical services (EMS), Indian news Web site The Hindu reported last month. They have applied to the DGCA, the country’s civil aviation authority, which has not yet made a decision. Among the hospitals’ request was permission to build rooftop helipads.
Some two years after the Eurocopter EC 145 entered service, it seems customers have forgotten the problems that delayed the program and caused early operational difficulties. Instead, European helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) providers focus on the positive: they say they like the spacious cabin, significant payload, low noise and the extensive certified equipment.