Safety of emergency medical services flights

March 2, 2009 - 6:30am

A trio of helicopter trade associations–the Association of Air Medical Services, the Helicopter Association International and the Air Medical Operators Association–is recommending the FAA mandate night vision goggles, enhanced vision systems, or IFR-only operations for all night flights of EMS helicopters. The recommendations overlap many key advisories the NTSB made in 2006.

February 27, 2009 - 10:28am

At the conclusion of three-and-a-half days of NTSB public hearings on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations early last month, Board member Robert Sumwalt summed up what several witnesses had already conceded, “There is no single magic bullet.”

February 23, 2009 - 1:59pm

A series of fatal medevac helicopter crashes last year prompted fresh calls for increased industry regulation, and by November the FAA had announced changes to the operations specifications governing helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) flights under Part 135. Those covered flight planning, weather minimums and the use of night-vision goggles (NVGs).

February 21, 2009 - 5:24pm

At the conclusion of four days of National Transportation Safety Board public hearings on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations earlier this month, board member Robert Sumwalt summed up what several witnesses had already conceded: “There is no single magic bullet.”

February 19, 2009 - 10:35am

Dec. 3, 2007–Eurocopter BK 117C1 operated by Evergreen Alaska Helicopters crashes into the ocean on a VFR flight in   IMC near Whittier, Alaska, killing all four aboard.

One week before the crash, an EMT complained to hospital management that the program’s pilots were overworked and that, “losing pilots to burn out is the best-case scenario.”

February 3, 2009 - 10:50am

Four days of NTSB public hearings on helicopter EMS safety began today in Washington, D.C., amid calls by the agency and the industry itself for reform. Last month, the NTSB determined the probable cause of four recent fatal helicopter EMS crashes. Three of the four involved inadvertent flight into night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), while one was attributed to loss of control during low and slow flight.

January 27, 2009 - 9:13am

There is no “magic bullet” solution to the spate of fatal helicopter EMS crashes over the last two years. 

Rather, investigation documents released by the NTSB on January 15 reveal a complex mosaic of multi-level human and technology failures behind nine of these crashes in 2007 and 2008.

December 1, 2008 - 10:56am

Concerned by mounting losses in emergency medical services (EMS) flights, the NTSB has added the safety of such flights to its 2009 Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements.

December 1, 2008 - 6:10am

Change is coming to the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) industry, and once the dust settles there could be fewer providers flying fewer helicopters in a more costly and highly regulated environment.

November 11, 2008 - 9:55am

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.

 
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