Saturday, August 21, 2010

Nation’s Medevac Under Attack

Some months ago, I blogged about the safety of the medevac industry. I wrote the blog shortly after we had a medevac helicopter go down here in Illinois, killing everyone aboard. Here is the blog:

USA Today ran a story on Thursday, August 19, 2010 that we should take notice of:

The headline for the article written by Alan Levin “Medevac Industry Opposing Upgrades Wanted by NTSB” is an attention grabber, because you have to wonder upon reading it, why anyone would oppose more safety in an industry that has had a recent, poor safety record.
So as not to violate copyright laws, I will encourage to use the link and read the article.
Since year 2000 to year-to-date, there have been 122 fatalities attributed to air ambulance crashes.
I understand that, in the larger scheme, the fatalities are a small percentage when compared to the thousands of flights, but when you call your service a “life flight”, the last thing you assume is that you are going to die taking one.
“Medevac” is an abbreviated term for “medical evacuation”. That is to say that a person(s) has a medical condition and they are being evacuated to a facility that can treat the patient’s medical condition. The whole premise is to get them safely to that facility, so it makes sense that every effort is made to do just that. That would include improved technology and equipment. It may very well include removing older air ambulances from service. It might also include night vision technology and warning systems designed to alert the pilot to an impending collision/crash.
So, why would the industry be opposed to it?
After 2007/2008, the industry DID take many voluntary steps to improve safety, but they were voluntary. Mandated change is what appears to be the hang up, but with 13 fatalities already this year, voluntary efforts don’t appear to be going far enough.
Without question, changes are going to add to the cost of running the service, but let’s face it; Life is priceless. It is heart-wrenching every time an air ambulance goes down and families are left to ask their questions.
So, is it a question of money or perceived government intrusion into an industry that wants the latitude to correct deficiencies on a voluntary basis or is it both? Is there more to it?
Where can sense and sensibility meet to reduce the number of air ambulance accidents and yet allow air ambulance operators to manage their business efficiently?
In rural America, where pre-hospital response times are often measured in miles, it is a question that will hopefully be answered very soon.
The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
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1 comment:

  1. I have recently left the air medical field. The emphasis is now on nothing except profit and central control. After many years in the industry, I found I could not see myself retiring from such a business. Safety is a code word used to make people feel safe. The truth is there is a “new culture “that puts nothing above the shareholders profit. This is being disguised by the purchase of new helicopters to replace an ageing fleet. The problem is the replacement helicopters are not sufficient to handle the pace and payload of the EMS mission. The attitude of the companies is simple. Get by each fiscal quarter by spending as little as possible in order to take as much profit as the top managers can get.
    All the talk about patient care and safety is just talk. The only people who are truly concerned about this are the crew members themselves. The real heroes are the crews. They still do the best they can to provide safe and optimal care in a hostile environment. I truly believe several of this year’s accidents were solely preventable at the corporate level.


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