Unbelievable – or is it? From Britain, comes yet another deplorable instance of a misguided person interfering with an air ambulance transport by way of a handheld laser pen.
According to the BBC’s report, the air ambulance helicopter was responding to an emergency at a man’s house in Caine. The man, in his 70′s, had suffered a cardiac arrest.
The air ambulance crew successfully picked up the patient, and the aircraft was on its way to the hospital when they encountered the dazzling effects of a laser pen entering the cockpit. The bright beam interfered with the pilot’s vision, forcing him to abort the landing.
Because of this, the patient had to be transferred to a ground ambulance and then taken to the hospital by road. Later, at the hospital, the man was pronounced dead.
This week’s blog is based on a gripping story of a dying child, and the air ambulance his mother says saved his life, that first appeared in New Zealand’s Southland Times late last month.
The day of his transport, the boy’s kidneys were reportedly working at only 5 percent. Starship Air Ambulance sped to Invercargill, New Zealand, one of the southernmost cities on the planet, to pick him up and take him to the capital city of Auckland for further care.
Coincidentally, the air ambulance had already made a round trip between Invercargill and Auckland that same day. Nevertheless, the pilots and a small crew of air medical specialists made the long trip again to pick the dying boy up.
For our readers who don’t live in New Zealand – and I know there are a few of you out there – the coastal cities of Auckland and Invercargill sit on polar opposite sides of the country. But let’s put that in a little more perspective:
Fuel exhaustion may have possibly led to the catastrophic crash of a medical helicopter that occurred in Clay County, Missouri on Friday. A pilot, two medical crew members, and a patient tragically lost their lives when the helicopter descended in a remote area outside Mosby — just one mile short of its refueling stop.
The low fuel hypothesis is merely one possible factor being looked into by federal transportation officials. NTSB investigators and FAA officials may need up to a year to determine the official cause of the accident.
The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS-350 owned by Air Methods and flown by its subsidiary, LifeNet, had departed from St. Joseph, picked up a patient in Bethany, and was headed for a hospital in the northern suburbs of Kansas City. The patient, 58, was to be transferred by air from Harrison County Community Hospital in Bethany to Liberty Hospital.
Air ambulance services on the East Coast of the United States, from North and South Carolina to New York, are on hurricane alert as Hurricane Irene gets closer to making landfall in the US. The storm, currently a Category 3, left a wide trail of destruction behind it as it left the Caribbean Sea, and it now has its course set for several of the United States’ most densely populated areas – which are, relatively, unprepared for a direct hit from a powerful hurricane.
Air Medical Services Respond
Three fixed-wing air ambulances from an air medical service in Pennsylvania were placed on alert by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency for possible work ahead, which may include transporting sick and injured patients out of Irene’s warpath. If FEMA contacts them, the air ambulances will have 6-12 hours to fly three planes full of air medical physicians, staff, and pilots to an airport located closer to the hurricane. The same Pennsylvania air medical service was called upon by FEMA to do the same for a hurricane that hit Texas last year.
A topic in the air ambulance world that’s being discussed among air medical crews in all 50 states is the new bi-partisan bill, S. 1407, that’s – rather miraculously – made its way to the floors of the embattled U.S. Congress. The bill, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine aspires for a new level of safety regulations for air ambulances, based on the higher standards that are already in place in states like Washington and Maine.
S. 1407, the Air Ambulance Medicare Accreditation and Accountability Act, would tie Medicare reimbursement to the new safety standards, restructuring the current reimbursement system to reflect air ambulance services’ investments in safety. Consequently, this would provide even more motivation for air medical services all over the United States to increase safety levels above and beyond their already high standing.