I was so lucky, when I first began flying helicopter EMS in 1999 when my first director of ops told me that he would rather me turn down a flight and go back to sleep, than push weather limits. However, the go/no-go decision was still my sole decision to make. At the time, I probably did not appreciate my director’s sentiment as much as I should have. [Read More...]
Flight Risk Assessment Tool
Helicopter air ambulance
Considering the complexities of the air medical industry, completely removing all risk is a challenge. The road to progress, if not traveled in a deliberate manner, could lead to bad outcomes—this industry has seen far too many outcomes of that type.
Although many factors can lead to bad outcomes in HAA, some unfortunate events can be attributed to the very thing that gives our industry its name—helicopters. They are labor-intensive machines that have regularly scheduled maintenance. However, from time to time well-maintained helicopters simply break. Pilots spend most of their time in one primary aircraft. When maintenance issues dictate, they swap to their backup aircraft. Herein lies the problem. [Read More...]
Helicopter air ambulance
helicopter backup aircraft
helicopter primary aircraft
Word on the Street
On December 22, 2016 a State District Court judge in Austin upheld a ruling, giving the State of Texas the right to regulate fees paid to air ambulances for transporting patients covered by Workers' Compensation Insurance. On the surface it doesn’t look like that ruling affects the American HAA (Helicopter Air Ambulance) industry, but it could prove to change the fabric of the industry. The ruling has the potential to create a negative ripple effect in our industry, if successfully argued and used as a precedent in other State class-action lawsuits currently filed against for-profit HAA providers.
Air medical companies have legally operated under the umbrella of the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act. This Act was originally crafted to remove government control of airfares as a way to promote healthy competition. This gave the consumer a choice of which airline they patronize based on a price they would be willing to pay. Air ambulance patients do not have a choice -- and are not told what the air ambulance company will charge until after the transport, which is the core of the legal argument.
In July 2015, over a dozen clients in Oklahoma City were billed thousands of dollars for an air ambulance transport. The clients asked a judge to certify a lawsuit as a class action, naming several air ambulance companies in that suit. The claim: “They’re making profit margins [of] in excess of 750%, huge profit margins they’re trying to get from the average public.” [Read More...]
My Two Cents