The Federal Aviation Administration has created some new operational procedural rules intended to address certain safety issues specific to the rotor air ambulance industry.
The new FAA rules require helicopter operators, including helicopter air ambulance operators, to utilize tighter flight rules better communication, better training, and new on-board safety equipment.
The rules also address flying procedures in bad weather conditions. Rick Sherlock, CEO of AAMS (Association of Air Medical Services), said that many air medical helicopter operators have already invested in safety upgrades and will continue to do so.
You can read the full article here.
A fatal crash of an emergency medical helicopter in 2011 that killed 4 people has now been linked to text messaging.
Bloomberg reports that an EMS helicopter pilot flying over Missouri had sent and received text messages prior to the aircraft running out of fuel, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The August 26, 2011 crash killed all on-board, including a patient being transported between hospitals, the pilot, a flight nurse, and a paramedic.
The NTSB apparently found seven documented text messages sent or received by the pilot before the helicopter went down. Some of these texts were reportedly related to making dinner plans after work.
According to NTSB records, the pilot had not slept well the previous night, and was aware that the helicopter was low on fuel before taking off to pick up the patient.
Auditor general John Doyle has warned that the provincial air ambulance service in British Columbia, Canada, may be putting its patients at risk.
Doyle’s report alleges that the air ambulance provider lacks sufficient monitoring and clear goals.
Ambulance dispatch decisions are often inadequately reviewed, the auditor claims. It goes on to surmise that the service does not fully assess whether dispatched flight paramedics are in the best locations to meet air ambulance patient needs.
Other concerns revolve around sufficient procedures in place for reporting as well as addressing patient safety issues.
Extrapolating the information in Doyle’s report, the main argument seems to be that the British Columbia air ambulance service should be (and should have been) monitoring and analyzing data in order to improve performance and safety.
The Arkansas Supreme Court held up the declaration of a lower court that a medical helicopter pilot is immune from liability for injuries related to an 8-year old accident — even if the accident was allegedly caused by pilot negligence.
The air ambulance was heading from a facility in Claremore, Oklahoma to the scene of an automobile accident in Benton County, Arkansas. After picking up the accident victim, the helicopter headed toward the hospital, but crashed shortly after takeoff.
The two members of the medical crew onboard suffered physical injuries, which they alleged were caused by negligent operation of the helicopter.
Thus, following the accident, these other members of the flight crew (a flight nurse and an EMT) brought a negligence suit against the pilot for the injuries that resulted from the crash.
According to an article posted by 10 News, a rotor air ambulance from Mercy Air experienced a laser pointer incident not once, but twice, while on its way back from transporting a gunshot victim.
The laser strikes occurred sometime around 1AM Pacific Time yesterday, according to 10 News.
Aiming any kind of laser at an aircraft is a felony. Those who are charged with interfering with aircraft using easily-available handheld lasers can be charged with heavy fines and often prison time — and the perps are caught more often than you might think.
In this case, a Sheriff’s helicopter was dispatched to the area where the strikes were reported by the air ambulance. Unfortunately, in this case, they were unable to find the person who had been shining the laser. Typically — and especially in the case of repeated laser strikes against an aircraft — police aerial units can often pinpoint the location using sophisticated equipment.