Since 1992 Medic’Air International of Paris has been providing medical assistance with air-ambulance flights and medical escorts on airlines worldwide. The company is an independent medical provider created by emergency physicians.
Emergency medical services
The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) aviation unit this spring reached a milestone of successfully flying 25,000 accident-free medevac flights since the program began in 1969. The current NJSP fleet includes four Sikorsky S-76B aeromedical critical-care configured helicopters, which in 2002 transported 1,400 patients, conducted 70 search-and-rescue flights and performed 60 first-responder educational demonstration sessions.
In the last 10 years, the odds of facing an in-flight medical emergency haven’t changed much, but thanks to the development of aviation telemedicine, the odds of surviving such an event have gone up considerably.
The UK’s Kent Air Ambulance Trust is celebrating what it describes as “an amazing turnaround” in its fortunes. A year ago the charity that supports the resident MD 902 and crew was projecting a deficit of $620,000 (£350,000), on the back of three difficult years that had already seen reserves depleted by almost $1.77 million (£1 million).
Some 43 pilots in Northern California charged with making false statements on their applications for medical certifications entered plea agreements. But one went to trial and lost. Michael Pennington, a former chief pilot and maintenance director for Mountain Life Flight, an air ambulance service, was found guilty.
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.”
Ten months ago all 16 of England’s and Wales’ air ambulances created the Association of Air Ambulance Charities (AAAC) to lobby the government to consider the needs of the air ambulance community. The AAAC argues that the lives and money the group saves warrant it some influence.
Several major hospitals in India have sought permission to launch helicopter emergency medical services (EMS), Indian news Web site The Hindu reported last month. They have applied to the DGCA, the country’s civil aviation authority, which has not yet made a decision. Among the hospitals’ request was permission to build rooftop helipads.
A call comes in to operations: a young American woman vacationing on a dive boat in the Caribbean is suffering from serious burns after a fire broke out on board the vessel. Her passport and all documents were lost in the accident, and she needs to be repatriated to the U.S. for medical attention–fast.
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.