Helicopter EMS Sector Experiences Uptick in Accidents
Several helicopter EMS accidents occurred over the last couple of months in the U.S.
On January 2, a 2009 Mercy Air Med Bell 407 operated by Med-Trans crashed while flying VFR near Mason City, Iowa, en route to a patient pick-up, killing the pilot and two flight paramedics aboard. Conditions at the time of the evening crash were reported as overcast with a temperature of 27 degrees F. The 2,700-hour pilot-in-command joined the program in September. The helicopter was equipped with night vision goggles and satellite tracking. The tight debris field was confined and a post-crash fire consumed the wreckage.
Also on January 2, a MediFlight Eurocopter EC130B4 operated by Air Methods sustained substantial damage after making an emergency landing near Seminole, Okla. The four-person crew, en route to pick up a patient, received serious injuries. The pilot reported that shortly after takeoff, the helicopter’s engine stopped producing power. The pilot performed an autorotation to a field and touched down hard, but the helicopter remained in the upright position.
On December 29, a 1997 Bell 407 operated by Med-Trans for AeroCare was substantially damaged after making an emergency landing at Reagan County Airport in Big Lake, Texas following loss of engine power during a patient transport, injuring the flight nurse but no one else aboard. The patient was transferred to a second helicopter for the flight to San Angelo. The flight had originated in Fort Stockton. During the forced landing, the helicopter’s main rotor blades struck the tail boom, severing the tail rotor gearbox assembly at the horizontal stabilizer.
On December 10, a 1992 BK117A3 operated by Air Methods for React crashed near Rochelle, Ill., en route to a patient pick-up after encountering IMC at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time. The pilot and the two-person medical crew were killed. Shortly before the crash, the pilot reported that he was aborting the mission and returning to his hospital base in Rockford due to weather.