HEMS crash on X-Mas. Sick of posting this news.

SandpitMedic

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I mean... do military aviators crash this much? Commercial? Everyone wants to talk intubation being a hot issue and suicide prevention...
Yeah, they’re issues, sure... BUT

Here is an in-your-face issue that get swept away after a few weeks.
Why in the **** are EMS aircraft always crashing and our people dying?

 
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SandpitMedic

SandpitMedic

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RIP to the crewman lost.
 

PotatoMedic

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It always sucks. Least this one wasn't pilot error
 

DesertMedic66

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I don’t know if I would really include this incident into the normal why are we crashing talk. From the reports that I have read the pilot suffered a medical issue and was attempting to land when the crash happened. It is very likely that when he went unconscious or arrested is the exact time when the crash happened. This crash would have happened on any helicopter, airplane, vehicle with a single operator.

In this incident probably the only thing that would have been a dual pilot configuration. But that is the vast minority of configurations in the USA. If you want dual pilot then you have many of the most popular airframes for HEMS not fitting that role for either not having a copilot seat or having weight issues.

Sad and unfortunate that the pilot died but you have to give them credit for saving everyone else.
 

MetroMedic94

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I mean... do military aviators crash this much? Commercial? Everyone wants to talk intubation being a hot issue and suicide prevention...
Yeah, they’re issues, sure... BUT

Here is an in-your-face issue that get swept away after a few weeks.
Why in the **** are EMS aircraft always crashing and our people dying?

The one thing the military (and even commercial) does that air ambulances do not is have a co-pilot. Should the PIC (Pilot in Command) ever have issues and becomes unable to safely pilot the aircraft, the SIC (Second In Command) assumes PIC capabilities. I have yet to see an air ambulance to have a co-pilot, but I also attribute this to size of the helicopter. Then again, there are options out there that allow for two pilots, crew and a patient, it's just more expensive.

Thats my opinion on the matter. I am still saddened every time I see these. A very sad and unfortunate situation.
 

Peak

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I think you still have to think about HEMS being dangerous in this case. In military and civil aviation there are strict limits on how long and how often you can fly. There is also a large amount of pressure to fly when you don't feel 100%. The exceptions to FAA regulations for emergencies are insanely overused by HEMS groups.

Could stress and fatigue contributed to the pilot having a medical emergency? Did the pilot feel pressured to fly even if he had not been feeling well, even if it was nausea or generally feeling unwell? When was his last FAA physical, was it presented with an accurate past medical history?

Given the already hazardous nature of HEMS flights I'm shocked that there isn't more strict safety restrictions. Why not require two pilots, two engines, and IFR capability?

Around here there have been a few flights that the military has had to take because the HEMS helicopters couldn't handle altitude, weight, and temperature. These are pretty routine summer conditions and in areas that often have a need for critical care providers and helicopter transport.
 

CANMAN

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This is unfortunately the same program that just crashed last month and killed the entire crew as well. While this obviously was a medical issue, I agree with Peak that there may be more to the backstory leading up to the event given the program's SOP's that have been the hot topic on the last crash. People can tout old statistics all they want, but there is a reason I have said I will never fly in a single engine ship without an autopilot and the ability to access it in cruise altitude. Personally I believe in two is one, and one is none when it comes to this type of thing, and personally have friends that are still here today because of the air frame they were flying in.

We are a SPIFR program, as was my previous program. At both places we routinely train with the use of the auto-pilot, GPS, and in-flight emergencies, and could get up front to the controls if stuff is really hitting the fan as a last ditch effort. You will never mitigate every single danger out of the profession, but you can certainly better your odds with good equipment and training.

There has never been such a study, but I would love to see a study that compared crash statistics with for profit vs. non for profit programs to see if there is any increase in correlation.
 

VFlutter

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It may be an unpopular opinion but I think the industry allows pilots to fly way past their prime either due to shortage or culture. It is not uncommon to hear pilots joke about their "Flight Physicals" that can be obtained from an unscrupulous physician , despite health issues, with ease. HEMS is a challenging aviation environment and should have stricter evaluations. Just because a pilot can pass a check ride does not necessarily mean they are well suited for actual HEMS operations and potential emergencies.

I have flown many pilots in their 60s, mostly prior military, who are fantastic aviators whom I trust however I still think there is a point where this is a younger mans' profession.
 
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SandpitMedic

SandpitMedic

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@CANMAN and @VFlutter

Excellent posts, and I agree with every point each of you made.
 

EMDispatch

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I do have to say Maryland State Police Aviation, since 2008,seems to be on it from the safety aspect. But perhaps a lot of that has to do with being a state entity, and a for profit entity.
 

CANMAN

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I do have to say Maryland State Police Aviation, since 2008,seems to be on it from the safety aspect. But perhaps a lot of that has to do with being a state entity, and a for profit entity.
Don't get me started about MSP and safety. A lot of the changes they made weren’t their initial ideas (like two pilots) and they have cost the state taxpayers an astronomical amount of money to provide a sub-par service as far as medicine capabilities go. The same people who drool over a fleet of 139’s large enough to service Texas are also the same people who complain about taxes in MD. Instead of blaming the real issues that caused the Dauphin sized hole in the ground they decided to use that tragedy as a segway to get new overly expensive aircraft. I lost a good friend in that crash and the amount of ill-informed MSP bootlickers in the MD fire and EMS system is appalling. Even all the new people in the Aviation Command don’t know what they don’t know because they’re pumped up to think they’re the biggest and the best. That just isn’t so now a days, it isn’t the 70’s and 80’s anymore. MSP is a huge political machine with a seemingly unlimited budget. They also don’t operate under part 135 ops, so are completely different and not really relatable to this discussion in that aspect.
 
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SandpitMedic

SandpitMedic

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EMDispatch

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Don't get me started about MSP and safety. A lot of the changes they made weren’t their initial ideas (like two pilots) and they have cost the state taxpayers an astronomical amount of money to provide a sub-par service as far as medicine capabilities go. The same people who drool over a fleet of 139’s large enough to service Texas are also the same people who complain about taxes in MD. Instead of blaming the real issues that caused the Dauphin sized hole in the ground they decided to use that tragedy as a segway to get new overly expensive aircraft. I lost a good friend in that crash and the amount of ill-informed MSP bootlickers in the MD fire and EMS system is appalling. Even all the new people in the Aviation Command don’t know what they don’t know because they’re pumped up to think they’re the biggest and the best. That just isn’t so now a days, it isn’t the 70’s and 80’s anymore. MSP is a huge political machine with a seemingly unlimited budget. They also don’t operate under part 135 ops, so are completely different and not really relatable to this discussion in that aspect.
Fair enough, I’m not their biggest fan by any means. The only positive they had is speed since they’re just medic staffed, but with their change in practices, it can take upwards of 20 minutes for us to get a helicopter from 10 miles down the road.
 

CANMAN

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Fair enough, I’m not their biggest fan by any means. The only positive they had is speed since they’re just medic staffed, but with their change in practices, it can take upwards of 20 minutes for us to get a helicopter from 10 miles down the road.
Yeah they’re start up sequence to pulling pitch is upwards of 11 minutes. My program is right next door to one of their ships.
 

Tigger

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Ugh! Shut them down.
Glad they survived, but that is either luck or pilot skill, probably more luck.

As I said initially... what gives with this being so frequent?! Enough is enough.
Sounds like this was a different aviation provider operating the aircraft this time? I've often wondered in arrangements like this where small aviation service companies are providing aircraft about how the dynamic between crew and pilot works, like does the crew have the same info about weather and aircraft that the pilot does?
 
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SandpitMedic

SandpitMedic

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Sounds like this was a different aviation provider operating the aircraft this time? I've often wondered in arrangements like this where small aviation service companies are providing aircraft about how the dynamic between crew and pilot works, like does the crew have the same info about weather and aircraft that the pilot does?
Perhaps, but they wouldn't be flying if the company had not accepted the flight - the company shoulders the blame for these crashes. I understand there are more dynamics at play here, but I do not care. Perhaps my shutting them down comment is a knee-jerk reaction, but that seems like what needs to happen, at least a temporary safety stand down so the investigators can go in and do their thing.
To me, two crashes in one month puts this company on the X list regardless of the cause. Anyone who would work for them is putting themselves in danger. Fool me once...
 

PotatoMedic

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Sounds like this was a different aviation provider operating the aircraft this time? I've often wondered in arrangements like this where small aviation service companies are providing aircraft about how the dynamic between crew and pilot works, like does the crew have the same info about weather and aircraft that the pilot does?
I can answer that sorta. The answer is it depends. My service I dispatch for contracts both fw and rw services. When we dispatch a flight we keep the pilot blind to the call info outside of location and if it has been turned down by another service and why. The pilot checks weather and we also check weatherturndown.com. Our crews are able to stop the line if they don't like the weather. I've even stopped a call because the pilot said he was willing to try and thinks he could do it but said it was 50/50 (at that point I said we will decline it without providing further info and we arranged another method). We're all required to take annually a class on aviation weather. But honestly for the most part we defer to the pilots to make the call about weather. As far as relationship between the crews and pilots. They more or less live together so they know each other quite well.
 

akflightmedic

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With my first outfit in Alaska, there were two main air vendors. To keep it fair, first half of month was x, second half of month was y. If y, was unavailable x was back up. For a small town it worked.

As for the dynamics of pilots in AK flying these small AC, there are a couple things worth knowing.

1. Bush pilot. Know what this means. Not saying it is right but AK people have a very “can do” attitude. If a bush pilot turns down a flight you better not step foot outside. Otherwise they can and do fly in harsh weather every single day. It is a fact of life there. Some of the crap I flew in would make you curl up and cry and that is not a boast. Weather changes at the drop of a hat there and if we waited for ideal conditions, well a lot of flights simply would never take place.

2. With the above statement some may say fine then don’t fly. But here is the kicker. There are NO roads for many of these places and ones which have roads are impassable. Read that again...NO roads.

3. Regards to sterile cockpit....everyone knows everyone. Many times the pilots knew as much and sometimes knew before we did. They fly there every day for years on end. Lot of family ties too. Everyone knew everything where I flew.

The way of life is hard for some to imagine. It was culture shock to me as well and this was nearly 15 years ago. Places like this exist.
 

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