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HEMS - Regulations and saving life

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HEMS - Regulations and saving life

Old 15th Jan 2002, 13:56
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Senis Semper Fidelis
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Question HEMS - Regulations and saving life

Forgive me if this is treading old ground,
But if Hems Heli is collecting a client( RTA or any such serious incident) I have seen along with many others the ultra tight landings that these brill pilots have made, my question is , Do they have total control of any landing site because of the emergency situation or is it accepted and agreed that no one pilot will be punished for what to most of us would be an illegal landing, or is it similar to the grey area that allows a police car to speed in a built up area, whilst executing their duty's!!
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Old 15th Jan 2002, 17:27
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Thumbs up

On the Police car front, he/she is indeed allowed to do what ever speed he/she feels is appropriate, BUT if they have an accident it is generally considered as their fault.

I only have experience of the London Air Ambulance, and I know that they have a set limit on the amount of space that they must have to land. There was a case, I believe, of a pilot being suspended from their crew for landing in a too small an area. Contravening procedures and all that.

The chief chappy that suspended him, then prodceded, the following week, to try and take off from the roof of the hospital with one engine at flight and the other at ground idle. Following this incident, he then suspended himself!!!!! <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <img src="confused.gif" border="0"> <img src="eek.gif" border="0"> Luckily the co-pilot was on the ball and realised what was happening.

All very strange, and that was told to me third hand, so any discrepancies, I apologise now.

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Old 16th Jan 2002, 00:16
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My company has published minimum clearances and one will respect them or go elsewhere. That's the only reasonable way management has to control risk exposure.
The company also spends a lot of time educating the agencies and people that'll call us as to LZ selection and preparation. They're so successful that the most difficult places I land are certain hospitals-but proximity is a larger consideration there than on most scenes.
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Old 16th Jan 2002, 00:44
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The National EMS Pilot's Organization has a booklet anyone can order that has great info on LZ setup, etc.

That might be a great supplement to anyone's program, or one might find that it could improve it.

Here's a link:

<a href="http://www.nemspa.org/LZ_Booklet_orderform.htm" target="_blank">LZ Booklet</a>
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Old 16th Jan 2002, 01:41
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While we are on the subject, can anyone tell me what the main differences are between a HEMS and an Air Ambulance in the UK? Also, is the authority to operate from confined areas given in a JAR Ops variation to each individual HEMS operator or is it contained within the description of operations in the Air Operators Certificate?

Boring I know, but I do have a genuine interest !! <img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0">
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Old 17th Jan 2002, 01:15
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The minimums for landing sites are clearly laid down in the UK Air Navigation Order and in JAR Ops 3.

General permissions or exemptions from Rule 5 (Low flying, ability to alight clear of congested areas, flying over gatherings etc) are issued individually to each operation, but amount to the same thing.

Having permissions to go below minima does not preclude you as a pilot from considering third parties and private property when chosing a landing site. In fact one of our biggest worries is injuring a member of the public when landing or taking off.

Of course all of these permissions are only valid when undertaking a primary HEMS mission. (Danger of death to an individual)

There is essentially no difference between the terminology of air ambulance and HEMS, but an air ambulance could also be construed as an aircraft that performs a medical repatriation from another country.

There is certainly no lack of excitement in being a HEMS pilot!
Old 18th Jan 2002, 23:52
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Billy: there is a difference between HEMS and Air Ambulance. HEMS is a primary response to an immediate threat to life, Air Ambulance is a secondary role which allows for planning if necessary and the projected carriage of persons/equipment/organs etc. The former can be carried out by a government body such as the police. The latter can only be carried out by a commercial company under its individual AOC. That is why the police/HEMS units cannot do Air Ambulance! In exceptional circumstances "when ALL other modes of suitable transport have been exhausted" then a police unit can conduct an A Ambulance flight.

There are strict guidlines laid down in an AOC (HEMS unit) or PAOC (police unit) for performance requirements for land and take off. They are less restrictive than ANO / JAR 3 commercial equivalents but they do exist!
For us (police/HEMS) they are:
Class1 perf reqmnts and 2 x rotor and frame diameter (day) or 3 x the same (night). It goes on to discuss obstructions/clearences/heights etc, but this is basically it.
We don't just 'lob in' because we're the cavalry coming to the rescue!!!
It is recognised as THE most dangerous aspect of government ops (the landing/take off) and believe me it is strictly monitored. Don't be lulled into thinking: "ooh I'm saving lives therefore I am immune" Look what just happened to our ability to save lives over hostile territory lately???The rules have changed! The attitudes, I suspect, haven't

<img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0">
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Old 5th Oct 2002, 23:18
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EMS ops. for the preservation of human life

How far can an EMS operator bend the regs for the preservation of human life?
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Old 5th Oct 2002, 23:25
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Old 5th Oct 2002, 23:41
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In the US, not at all. However, some of the rules and waivers to the rule sometimes get pretty liberal. The UK has a different view towards "Lifesaving" flights I think. We still consider EMS as being an airtaxi medical transport flight and not "rescue". You violate the rules and then have an UH OH! and you will find yourself on the carpet big time with the Feds.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 00:59
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Glad you're in Canada and not the UK, sunshine........

Why jeapordize(english spelling) 2, 3, 4 peoples lives in addition to the broken one you've got on board?
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 01:46
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Our regs are full of little exceptions to the air regulations for the preservation of human life.....

but these do not apply to EMS operations IMHO.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 02:21
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In Oz we have provision to declare a 'Mercy flight' when you are knowingly going to break a reg. There are a host of proviso's (spelling?) but are ultimately pilot responsibility to assess risk/gain.

I imagine similiar reg's in other parts??
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 06:07
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This is an extract and a link to the “official rule bending guide” for Australian mercy flights. You will need acrobat to read the attached link. [AC 91-170(0)]

Mercy flight means a flight which will involve contravening one or more of these regulations, made for the purpose of relieving a person from grave and imminent danger arising out of an urgent medical, flood, fire relief or similar situation, at a time where
failure to make the flight is likely to result in serious or permanent disability or loss of life.

Any relevant person in authority such as a doctor, police officer, fire fighting commander, rescue coordinator etc. may request the use of an aircraft for an emergency purpose, but only the pilot in command can declare a mercy flight.

AC 91-170(0) Aust.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 23:06
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Thumbs down bend the rules.....not at all!

An EMS operator CANNOT bend the rules just because of the task at hand.

Transport Canada allows, quite LEGALLY, certain procedures/ actions during a medevac flight( as all Canadian pilots know).

XNR, what exactly do you consider bending or breaking of rules?????

EMS op's falls under air taxi op's in Canada. All Canadian pilots( fixed and rotary) know that when the term MEDEVAC is used, that has priority over everything except an a/c in distress/ emergency.

I have heard from some heli-ems guys that they can do whatever is required..." to save human life". WRONG!!!!!!

Leaving rules aside, I second what Thomas coupling stated!

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Old 7th Oct 2002, 05:20
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Take a french vanilla cappucino and a chill pill ...... !!!???
You're sounding exasperated.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 12:32
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Take it easy on D.K.

He is exactly right IMHO.

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Old 7th Oct 2002, 13:24
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Thank God for common sense...thanks DK

Mind you the australian excerpt makes one wonder...opens a bag of worms IMO.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 15:04
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A Pandora's Box indeed.........

You can file a "Med" "Hosp" "SAR" Fire/Flood and others that I have forgotten..........this will give you "Special Handling" by Airservices Oz / ATC........but does not give you any right to deviate from the Rules.

A Mercy Flight is one step higher...........and is more an administrative protection/priviledge than anything else.......

You still can't take off with less fuel than is required..or into weather that others would'nt dare.....but you can exceed Dutytimes, curfews, and other soft rules.........and you will automatically receive all the help in the world from Airservices / ATC along the way.

But you have to justify each and every infringement...and in writing.....and if things go wrong ... in court!!!!

Roll over and go back to sleep.......after all I never got them into that predicament in the first place.......and I will be the first one blamed after the excitment has ceased.....

Last edited by Old Man Rotor; 7th Oct 2002 at 15:16.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 16:13
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TC: "Glad you're in Canada and not the UK, sunshine........"

- sunshine! ... a bit 'holier than thou'

I'm fairly pleased with the two lives I saved in the course of unrelated operations. To suggest that the rules which I may have 'flexed' endangered anyone is just drivel (unless you want to be pedantic). Had I actually breached any regs in so doing I would have been entirely entitled so to do - provided that I informed the relevant Authority afterwards - It's about sound judgement.

Pilots other than ex-mil plod types (TC) are capable of making judgment calls.

Sound judgement and self discipline (not to get 'carried away')with common sense beats 'blind rule following' in humanitarian situations.

9/11: you'd have had a hard time stopping me going to the roof to rescue people with your arguments about rules !

EMS of course should be done within systematic consraints, still common sense cannot be outlawed - surely! (don't call me)
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