Jeff Hensel leaves the same voicemail every July 23. “Today is the anniversary of my accident,” the 25-year-old Northern Illinois resident reminds people, as if those listening might actually forget that day in 1999 when his car slammed into a tree. “If it weren’t for Flight For Life and a lot of people who took care of me, I would not be here today.”
Emergency medical services in the United States
Helicopter operators flying air medical operations have always had a keen interest in safety, but a spike in accident and fatality statistics in the last five years has intensified concern throughout the industry. Representatives from a number of helicopter EMS task forces gathered in Dallas recently to discuss procedures for improving the safety of their operations.
The FAA has conducted a review of accidents involving commercial emergency medical services (EMS) helicopters between January 1998 and December last year. It offers evidence that controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), inadvertent flight into IMC and lack of operational control were predominant factors, particularly at night and in low visibility. “Of the 27 fatal helicopter EMS accidents, 21 occurred during night operations.
EMS operators in Europe are providing some input in the ongoing debate in the U.S. about helicopter emergency medical service (EMS) safety. Reacting to a series of stories in AIN, Friedrich Rehkopf, managing director of German EMS provider ADAC Luftrettung (the flying arm of the country’s automobile club), was eager to highlight how the European approach to safety differs from that in the U.S.
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