The province of Saskatchewan is rushing to quickly retrofit an old government executive plane into a third air ambulance. Coinciding with this, they are now mandating that two pilots be required on all air ambulance flights by the end of the year.
Following a small accident after an otherwise successful landing earlier this month, that caused a plane’s landing gear to hit deep snow and veer off the Maple Creek Airport runway into a window at 45mph (no patients were on board at the time – the pilot and two passengers were okay, only the nose and propeller were damaged), Saskatchewan has been left with only 2 air ambulances to cover the entire province – that’s over 227,000 square miles.
Staying current with trends around the world, healthcare firms in India are reportedly looking to air ambulances to improve their emergency healthcare response system and transport patients in remote areas to hospitals across the country.
Sify, a Financial/Business News service in India, has just reported that OSS Air Management, a Delhi-based helicopter service provider, has acquired two AugustaWestland AW-109′s with the goal of starting the first helicopter ambulance service in Bangalore by this summer. (Technically the company is aiming for mid-2011, which means in India it will be the Monsoon season – it will be summer in the northern hemisphere.)
OSS is using the AW-109s as part of a “pilot project” for medical service deployment in Bangalore. For this, they have joined forces with a prominent super-specialty hospital in the city called Vydehi. During this stage of the project, OSS will supply the helicopters, the pilots to fly them, and the mechanics to maintain them – while facilities for the new ambulances like helipads, fuel, and residences for the pilots will be supplied by their partner hospital.
Happy New Year, everyone! This story about a study last year is quickly making the rounds. Findings from the University of Rochester School of Medicine now show that trauma patients transported by helicopter ambulance are more likely to survive and be discharged home after treatment than patients transported by ground – despite typically being more seriously injured, in transport for a longer duration, and requiring more hospital resources than the average trauma patient transported by normal ambulance.
The six-page study, titled “Helicopters and the Civilian Trauma System: National Utilization Patterns Demonstrate Improved Outcomes After Traumatic Injury,” opened with the idea that the role helicopters should play in civilian trauma care is still controversial. The objective was to compare the outcomes of patients after being transported from the scene of injury by helicopter and ground ambulance respectively.
The FAA has already been encountering significant setbacks and budget overruns in its “NextGen” campaign to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system. Most recently, the busy agency has discovered that they may need to spend an extra $500 Million launching a major component that is already far behind schedule.
DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel wrote a letter to Congress this week that the FAA “faces several organizational, policy, logistical, and training challenges” in the completion and implementation of Lockheed Martin’s new GPS-based high-altitude Air Traffic Control system.
Completing the ERAM project, which the FAA had planned to have finished by the end of the year, could now take between 3 to 6 additional years, Scovel says. He added in his inspection findings that the cost escalation could force the agency “to reallocate funds from other modernization projects.” Unfortunately it will be a necessary move, as the Inspector General noted that over 200 problems have been found with the new software.
The Kansas City Star reports that the helicopter was responding to a call and had just lifted off its helipad, when, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, it lost one of its engines and crashed down on its helipad in the small town of La Monte (10 miles west of Sedalia, Missouri) only a few feet away from a container of jet fuel and a number of propane tanks.
The helicopter, operated by Air Methods, was about 200 feet in the air when the lost engine failed. Nearby fire departments, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and a hazmat team responded to the crash.