Today, the winners of Eurocopter’s 2011 “Golden Hour” Award were honored at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida. The Golden Hour Award recognizes those who advance the use of helicopters in the air medical transport industry, either through their contributions over time or a specific activity.
This year, the award went to the latter, a heroic international air medical crew made up of Captain Daniel Aufdenblatten and rescue specialist/mountain guide Richard Lehner from Air Zermatt in Switzerland, and the late Captain Sabin Basnyat, who had been the chief pilot of Fishtail Air in Nepal.
The team successfully used a long-line to rescue climbers from Annapurna I, the 10th highest mountain in the world.
On April 29th of last year, Aufdenblatten, Basnyat, and Lehner rescued a team of Spanish mountain climbers who were stranded high atop a steep area of Mount Annapurna, one of the world’s tallest mountains. The climbers were stuck at a precarious altitude of 22,800 feet, on a mountain 26,550 feet tall at its highest elevation.
According to a new story from the Washington Post, the mother of a teenage girl killed in the 2008 crash of a Maryland State Police medical helicopter has come forward to join other parties in suing the FAA over the incident. Her suit claims that inattentive air traffic controllers were largely to blame for her daughter’s death, as well as the deaths of three others who were on board at the time of the accident. The mother, Stephanie Younger, claims that the controllers were negligent and unresponsive, and failed to guide the pilot of the medical chopper safely in bad weather conditions.
Younger filed the lawsuit, which does not cite monetary damages, on Monday in U.S. District Court. It follows four other suits filed since 2010 against the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with the crash of the Maryland State Police helicopter “Trooper 2.” The Baltimore Sun reported that Younger’s suit will, most likely, be the final suit lodged against the FAA regarding the 2008 accident.
A very important topic in the air ambulance industry for 2011 is the burning issue of ground-to-air laser targeting of aircraft by civilians. In particular, February has seen no shortage of incidents regarding ordinary people carelessly endangering the lives of air medical crews and patients by pointing hand-held laser devices at aircraft.
Traveling at the speed of light, a laser beam in the aircraft gives no warning before it appears “out of nowhere,” making it a serious danger for air medical crews, who literally have no time to react to the situation.
“There is a general anger that someone could be so stupid to do such a thing to any aircraft, let alone the air ambulance,” says Carl Hudson, an air ambulance paramedic in the UK. (BBC News)
Last week, in Arapahoe County, Colorado, the frightening events of an otherwise routine medical transport have been circulating around the country. An air ambulance pilot was forced to resort to emergency landing procedures – during the transport of a child patient.An air ambulance was transporting the child from Cortez, Colorado to Centennial Airport, on the outskirts of Denver. Six people were on board the King Air turboprop. The transport was going well, but as the pilot prepared to land, the front wheel of the plane refused to come down. Due to some kind of malfunction, the wheel would simply not deploy.
The pilot reported to the tower that the nose gear was not responding. They were forced to make a hard landing.
Life Air, an Ohio-based air ambulance service whose company roots stretch back twenty-six years to the creation of Life Ambulance Service Inc., has been acquired by Air Evac Lifeteam for an undisclosed sum.
A sister company of Life Ambulance Service, Life Air was incorporated in 2006 to provide rapid response services to nearby rural areas by utilizing air ambulances in addition to Life Ambulance’s ground response vehicles.
Air Evac Lifeteam, headquartered in West Plains, Missouri, is a service recognized for its services in rural areas. Air Evac’s President and CEO, Seth Myers, expects a seamless transition to take place, with personnel being unaffected and no service outages or interruptions. This is particularly relevant in the case of Air Evac, which provides services to some of its customers via a membership system that covers their service areas. This system is particularly well-suited for families who live far out in rural areas who may require being flown out by helicopter if they experience a life or limb-threatening medical emergency.