12 October 2010

Deaths In Helicopter EMS

EMS helicopters have been in the news a lot this year...
There have been a lot of people killed... enough that once again, political leaders are getting pressure and in turn are pressuring the FAA to "do something, even if it's wrong".

And it seems to me that's just what they are about to do.
Initial reports on the "fixes" they intend to install by way of new regulations MAY have a minor impact. But from my viewpoint, accidents will continue to happen so long as folks continue to take off into weather that is marginal or worse, particularly at night.

It seems so simple...
"Don't fly when visibility is crap!"
But too many still do, and our accident record reflects it.

I'm old, and I'm a chicken.
When there is any question at all I've learned to follow Nancy Reagan's advice:
"Just say NO!"


emily said...

I still haven't muddled through the full write up, but there is some I agree with (like flight safety) but expensive equipment isn't going to help if we aren't trained, the crews aren't utilized as more then baggage and WE QUIT FLYING IN CRAP WEATHER!

Oh, yeah. I agree with you!

Capt. Schmoe said...

I once read that EMS Helicopters had the worst accident rate (number of accidents per hours flown) of any part 135 operators.

Obviously, the emergent nature of EMS missions and the fact that weather is often a contributing factor in the original emergency are significant risk factors that are sometimes being ignored.

It does not appear that the industry is doing a very good job self-policing this issue. That leaves the door open for politicians to do what they do best: Passing laws that are often unnecessary or counter-productive.

It must also be noted that many of the pilots in these accidents were not just low timers just out of the Acme Flight Academy, but were high time, experienced pilots.


cj said...

How do you instill in those people who are willing to risk everything to save someone else's life that there are times when they must say no?

Is it a factor of age? Or experience?

We both know, GB, that age has a lot to do with it and getting those younger to listen to caution and sound advice proves impossible at times.


Greybeard said...

CJ, this guy was 69 years old! (But oddly, weather was apparently NOT a factor in that 4-fatality accident.)

There IS strong motivation to help others.
There is terrible pressure once the patient is on board to continue flying in the face of degrading weather and get the patient the care she/he needs.
But all the doo-dads and expensive gadgets in the world won't help our safety stats as much as simply emphasizing that the only way to help the patient is to safely complete the flight.

So simple, huh?
So why is our accident record so terrible?

Greybeard said...

Here's the link that doesn't seem to work above.