Quote: Three people died Thursday when a medical helicopter crashed in western Tennessee, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The helicopter had dropped off a patient in Jackson, Tennessee, and was returning to Brownsville, Tennessee, about 30 miles west of Jackson, when the crash was reported, said FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt said the crash occurred shortly after 6 a.m.
F9Animal From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (4 years 4 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3353 times:
Quoting stratosphere (Reply 1): RIP to the victims...That is the problem with EMS flights...They are risky..They have one of the highest accident rates in aviation..
This is very sad. Yes, they are risky. The men and women risk their lives every day to save lives. They fly in some dangerous conditions, and land in places where you would never think a helicopter would land. I think every EMS chopper crew are heroes, and I sincerely appreciate what they do. Without them, more lives would be lost.
The pilot was very experienced. In fact, a retired police helicopter pilot for the Memphis PD. Those police helicopter pilots are pretty incredible pilots. Looks like weather might be a contributor to the crash, as the linked articles explain. A thunderstorm was moving through the area at the time of the crash. Very very sad! http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20...-of-medical-air-transportation-say
UAL747DEN From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (4 years 4 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3314 times:
I have always been amazed by these operations. I was able to be close to the airLife operation in Denver for a while and its just so amazing how these guys can get a call at anytime and have an plane or helicopter up and ready to go in minuets. Several times a night planes land at APA and taxi over to Mayo Aviation's hangar where they are met by a helicopter that lands and takes back off with the patient all in about 10min. Again this whole operation is just AMAZING!!!
Just FYI for the Denver area people on here, Mayo and the other company that does Flight for Life are hiring a few times a year for dispatchers, no experience is needed and this is one of the most hands on interesting jobs you can get in aviation without experience. The hiring process mainly requires you to be smart enough to learn quickly and they want to know that you will stay for a while.
MedAv From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (4 years 4 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3228 times:
Quoting F9Animal (Reply 2): This is very sad. Yes, they are risky. The men and women risk their lives every day to save lives. They fly in some dangerous conditions, and land in places where you would never think a helicopter would land. I think every EMS chopper crew are heroes, and I sincerely appreciate what they do. Without them, more lives would be lost.
You are misinformed, as are nearly all who are not in the medical field. It is highly questionable (i.e. the medical evidence is very weak) whether they save any lives at all. The practice continues because it has become almost gospel that "minutes save lives" and what follows from that is that helicopters must save minutes, when there is not much evidence to support this; in addition, in many, many cases patients could have been transported faster by ground. This is why this is so much sadder. At best, at best about 5-10% of patients who are transported actually benefit from it (over ground transport). With that number, we should reevaluate whether we want to spend so many millions on this risky transport, and perhaps consider adding ground ambulances and add training to existing ground crews.
We mostly handled trauma patients from rural areas with little to no access to hospitals. Often with the crews I talked with, the choice was to drive an ambulance 35 minutes to a small town hospital which was not equipped for major trauma or take a 30-40 minute flight to the best trauma center in the southwest. Other times we had people flown in for organ transplants after an organ turned up last minute and they were the closest on the list before the organ expired.
Womack17 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (4 years 4 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3171 times:
I live in Jackson, TN and of course the local news coverage on this incredibly sad accident has been extensive both in the Jackson local stations and all the Memphis local news teams (Memphis is approximately 70 miles southwest of Jackson and serves as our local CBS and NBC affliates.) The pilot was very experienced and both of the nurses onboard were life-flight veterans.
Interestingly another company's Medvac helicopter had refused the transport because they determined that the weather did not meet the requirements of safe flight and grounded their chopper. The company involved has suspended all transport operations pending a preliminary investigation by the NTSB. The helicopter went down in clear field with no possible accidental contact with towers or other obstacles at any variant of height. Witnesses have all stated that before the helicopter went down it "came in contact with a lightning strike almost immediately after a deafening boom of thunder."
Jackson is a city of around 75,000 and the outpouring of support for the families of these tragic victims has been abundant. My thoughts and prayers go to the families.
Mudboy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (4 years 4 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3097 times:
I have tried several times to reply to this thread, and am having a very hard time doing it now. I am a Flight Medic/RN and when I am not in Iraq, I am flying civillian Medevac stateside. I know Hospital Wing very well, as I am from Mississippi, and have trained with several of their Nurses before. This truly hits home for me. Hospital Wing is an outstanding service with a great safety record. Not knowing what the preleminary NTSB report says, I will refrain from jumping to conclusions.
But, I will add my 2 cents to this discussion.
There are way too many civillian Medevacs these days, and certain private services have tried to turn this into a money making business, with the convenient store approach, by having a base on every corner, so to speak. There is no need for this many Air Medical Services, as the statistics do show that flying a Pt by Helo will rarely change their outcome. Anyone that flys Medevac, knows this is true, they will just not admit it due to ego, or fear of losing their job.
This industry has gone from saving lives to making a profit, and when you have services competing for flights, they start to push weather minimums, and take chances, and then it gets them in trouble. Until the insurance companies stop paying and the FAA increases standards, we will continue to read about these crashes, over and over again.
My condolences to all of the families involved, and Blue Skies to the Crew.
F9Animal From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (4 years 4 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 2837 times:
Quoting MedAv (Reply 4): You are misinformed, as are nearly all who are not in the medical field. It is highly questionable (i.e. the medical evidence is very weak) whether they save any lives at all. The practice continues because it has become almost gospel that "minutes save lives" and what follows from that is that helicopters must save minutes, when there is not much evidence to support this; in addition, in many, many cases patients could have been transported faster by ground. This is why this is so much sadder. At best, at best about 5-10% of patients who are transported actually benefit from it (over ground transport). With that number, we should reevaluate whether we want to spend so many millions on this risky transport, and perhaps consider adding ground ambulances and add training to existing ground crews.
When those choppers fly a critically ill person, they are risking their lives. I also think about the potential of getting life saving transplants, and even organs. They save lives, and I don't need to be informed or misinformed to know that. Especially for patients that are far from a hospital, those that live in the middle of nowhere.
MedAv From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (4 years 4 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 2737 times:
Quoting F9Animal (Reply 8): When those choppers fly a critically ill person, they are risking their lives. I also think about the potential of getting life saving transplants, and even organs. They save lives, and I don't need to be informed or misinformed to know that. Especially for patients that are far from a hospital, those that live in the middle of nowhere.
And 5-10% is good enough for me.
I respect your opinion and in cases of transplants and some transfers, flying is justifiable, but I'm sorry, 5-10% may be good enough for you, but there are few, if any, other medical interventions with this high a risk (to providers)/benefit ratio and at such tremendous cost. Medicine is not a gung-ho practice; it should be based on careful considerations of evidence, benefit/risk, and yes, economics.
Mudboy, sorry for the loss, and I completely agree with you re the money-making/risk-taking problem. The NTSB has been begging the FAA to institute tight rules on this, but they're refusing. The horrible accident in Maryland a few years back also had some money motivations with the Privates encroaching and pressuring the state choppers to take risks.
rcair1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (4 years 4 months 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 2630 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW CUSTOMER SERVICE & SUPPORT
Emergency response - whether air or ground - is a very dangerous. Just for a bit of context - looking at just fire fighters the statistics are:
2008 - 118 fatalities
2009 - 93
2010 - 18 so far
These numbers do not include medical only responders such as those on this ship or people working for pure ambulance services, only those who work for fire departments (most of which provide EMS).
As a volunteer fireman for 23 years, and fire chief for over a decade, loss of one of my emergency responders is a nightmare scenario for me - one I thankfully have not had to deal with yet and work very diligently to prevent. But this is a dangerous business and we are always weighing risk/reward.
Because of the location my department covers, we tend to fly the chopper a lot. In fact, for a delta or echo trauma call- the helicopter is auto-launched as we are paged (it is 15ish minutes flying time to the edge of our response area). Many times (most), the ship is stood down, but it is often in the air at that time so the risk is not zero. Nor is the risk for my crew. Remember probably 1/2 the calls we roll on turn out to be non-emergencies - but we never really know.
In those cases we fly the patient, we are not talking 2-5 minutes difference - more like 45-60 minutes - and that is after we load. From my primary station, it can be a 45 minute code 3 run to the scene of a trauma (when roads are good) - and that station is 30 minutes by ground from the hospital (in the opposite direction). In addition - notification of the emergency can easily take 30 minutes (no payphones, poor cell coverage).
My point is that, for our area, the helicopter makes sense. I agree that in areas it does not. However, you could not justify the cost of a ship based upon the call load in areas like mine - you must have the added utility of having the ship run on calls that are closer in. So, a quandary. If you say we will only fly if the delta in time is, say 30 minutes or greater, the ship will not be there. It cannot be funded on that - just like my department (in it's 35'th year) is all volunteer - 10 trucks from 3 stations - donation supported (not tax). Why? Because we could never "support" a full paid department on our call load. However, those several thousand people we serve also need emergency services. In our case, they donate to us and help raise money, to pay the costs of operating (no - nobody in the department is paid - I'm just talking the cost of that $200K truck and such).
Certainly flying patients is an area we should be continually evaluate - and changes have been made. For instance, last year the auto-launch protocol for our area changed - they only launch on trauma, not on medical emergencies. That is because outcomes showed that, for medical emergencies (sick person as opposed to hurt person), the helicopter did not improve outcome. That doesn't mean we won't fly a medical pt, just that it is not auto-launch. We also train consistently for working with the ship - we have designated landing zones that we use if at all possible, and we will waive off and rendezvous at a better place.
I have been on calls where I believe the chopper saved a life (one example below), others where it may not have been warranted - based upon what they found at the hospital - and on others that, despite heroic efforts by everybody, we lost. However, in the field, you have very limited diagnostic capability, limited time and you have to make a call - weighing all the risks. Outcomes and statistics are useful tools that help guide operations, but individuals cases may fall outside statistics so those statistics are only a tool - not an answer.
One example that I feel very confident the ship made a difference is as follows. We were paged out to a "3yo boy backed over by a pickup truck - truck ran over the child's chest." I must say this kind of call is one that sends boatloads of adrenalin into the system, and where we step it up. (FYI - the #1 cause of death to FF's is heart attack - and no we are not all fat slobs). To make it worse - we are a small community - we know these people. Reports through dispatch from the scene confirmed that the child was in dire straights. In this case - there was no hesitation about flying. The ambulance was 20 minutes behind the fire trucks and the nearest level 1 trauma 45 minutes from there by road. We landed the ship as close to the scene as we could (about 1 mile) and one of my EMT's literally gathered the child up and carried him to the ship (others providing care as he went)
The child needed care we could not provide on scene.
As the ship left, the parents asked me where were they going - I radioed the pilot and asked - he replied "Northern Colorado Medical Center" (60 minutes by vehicle from our location). A few minutes later I heard him call dispatch and advise they were going direct to Children's Hospital in Denver - ETA 20. That hospital was over 2 hrs by road from our location.
The little boy lived and has recovered, tho he lost a kidney, spleen, etc. I do not believe he would have made it to the hospital in the ambulance.
I could recount others cases. My point is that this is not an easy decision to make. It is neither cut and dried, nor always clear. EMS, by it's nature tends to 'over treat' because we are working on such limited knowledge and emergency responders routinely take risks that others would not. I am sure we have flown pt's that did not need it or who didn't survive despite flying. But I also know we have always thought it was warranted.
Have we had close calls with the ship? I can think of one - about 10 years ago. Ship from Dillon - came in at night - so unfamiliar. Pt was 'large' - so the ship was heavy. We lit the LZ as well as we could - but as he left he did not turn far enough to head down valley - but headed toward the wall instead as he was climbing out. Stood that thing on it's tail to stop!. He said "Oh my - let's try that again" and headed out the right direction.
Mostly, I'm just sorry to see a crew lost. The emergency services community is small and tight - we feel every loss very directly.