NTSB Wants Tougher Rules Imposed on Emergency Medical Helicopter Operators

In an attempt to improve safety and decrease the number of emergency medical hospital accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the federal government to come up with tougher rules that emergency helicopter operators would need to abide by. Recommendations include requiring flight data recorders, night-vision systems, and autopilots on the aircrafts. The NTSB also is calling on the Health and Human Services Department to mandate that emergency helicopter operators fulfill certain safety standards before being given Medicare payments for medical flights.

Between December 2007 and October 2008, 35 people died in nine aviation accidents involving emergency medical helicopters. Since then, there have been three emergency medical accidents although, fortunately, no one has died. In the last two decades, at least 150 people have died in over 200 EMS helicopter crashes.

There has been a greater than 80% increase in the number of emergency medical helicopters in the US in the past 10 years and there are some 750 medical service helicopters in operation today. Yet these helicopters aren’t required to contain the same basic safety features that commercial planes must carry. EMS Pilots don’t have a lot of time to prepare for rescue flights and often they have to land in places that aren’t designed for aircraft landings. They may even have to avoid hitting trees, power lines, buildings, homes, and people.

The EMS aircrafts are supposed to rush accident victims and others in emergency situations to a hospital where they can get the care that they need sooner than if they were to arrive by ambulance or another motor vehicle. That’s why the number of emergency medical helicopter crashes leading to injuries and deaths has been disturbing. The aircrafts that are supposed to help save lives are in some instances causing accident injuries and deaths.

If your loved one died in an EMS accident, an airplane accident, a helicopter crash, a commercial airline crash, or another kind of accident involving an aircraft and you think that operator negligence, a defect in the design of the aircraft, or a plane malfunction caused your loved one’s death, you may have grounds for filing a Washington DC wrongful death lawsuit.

NTSB wants new rules for medical helicopters, AP, September 1, 2009
NTSB recommends training, equipment for medical helicopters; tie Medicare pay to safety, Breaking News, 24/7, September 1, 2009
NTSB Begins Hearings Into Medevac Crashes, NPR, February 3, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Medevac helicopters under scrutiny, USA Today, September 29, 2009
Medevac Helicopter Crash Kills 4 in Maryland, Fox News, September 28, 2008

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