Bell 222, Aurora, Ill., Oct. 15, 2008–The Air Angels medical transport helicopter hit a 734-foot-tall radio station tower, killing all four people on board, including the commercial pilot, a flight paramedic, a flight nurse and the patient. The accident occurred at 11:58 p.m. in clear weather. The strobe lights on the tower were working before the helicopter hit, but their electrical wires were severed in the crash.
Bell 407, Sedona, Ariz., Oct. 13, 2008–An Arizona Department of Public Safety paramedic was killed during a search-and-rescue operation on Doe Mountain near Sedona. The helicopter crew had flown from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport to help find two stranded hikers. They spotted the hikers on the mountain, notified the Sedona Fire Department, which had initiated the search, and landed on a large boulder near the hikers.
Bell 206L-1 LongRanger, Greensburg, Ind., Aug. 31, 2008–Witnesses saw “components separate from” the EMS LongRanger before it crashed and was consumed by fire. All three people on board–the pilot, a flight nurse and a paramedic–were killed. The helicopter, operated by Air Evac EMS, was transporting the crew from a fund-raising event to home base in Rushville, Ind.
Bell 407, Huntsville, Texas, June 8, 2008–Four people–the pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic and a patient–were killed when the EMS Bell 407 crashed in Sam Houston National Forest in night VMC. The Med 12 flight had picked up a patient at Huntsville Memorial Hospital and was en route to Herman Memorial Helipad in Houston.
A new inflight medical diagnostic system is being launched here at the NBAA show, claiming to be cheaper and easier to use than existing equipment. EMS-Link (Booth No. 2079) is priced at $9,980 per aircraft annually and, according to company CEO Paul Egan, requires absolutely no training for cabin crew.
For around $10,000 per year, aircraft operators can now fly with diagnostic equipment that will allow them to relay vital medical data to ground-based emergency support physicians. The application of the equipment on air- craft is too new yet to have generated firm evidence on the extent to which it can save lives, but early indications are that in many cases it will make an important contribution to the effectiveness of in-flight treatment.
A Bell 222 operated by Air Methods subsidiary Mercy Air crashed on September 7 at 4:40 a.m. in Baker, Calif., en route to an auto accident. Killed in the crash, Mercy Air’s first, were pilot Marshall Butler, flight nurse Ana Coburn and paramedic Kalaya Jarbsunthie. The three were based at Mercy Air’s Pahrump, Nev. base. The NTSB is conducting an investigation.
Nearly since the first U.S.-based emergency medical services (EMS) flight operation was performed in the early 1970s, controversy has swirled around the practice. In battlefield conditions, where the dangers were more clear cut and the issue nearly always one of life and death, questions on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of EMS flights are rarely raised.
Eurocopter AS 350B2, South Padre Island, Texas, Feb. 5, 2008–The ATP-rated pilot-in-command, a flight nurse and a paramedic were killed when the EMS helicopter, operated by Metro Aviation, crashed into the water while maneuvering for approach in night VMC.
A corporate pilot for a Sugar Land, Texas-based company whose employees were training at FlightSafety West Palm Beach, Fla., was one of several injured when