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"Medical evacuation helicopter crashed"

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"Medical evacuation helicopter crashed"

Old 16th Oct 2008, 10:37
  #1 (permalink)  
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Unhappy "Medical evacuation helicopter crashed"

AURORA, Ill. -- Four people have been killed after a medical evacuation helicopter crashed in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Ill.

According to Aurora police, the helicopter was headed for Children's Memorial Hospital from Valley West Hospital in Sandwich.

Sgt. Robb Wallers said the helicopter belonged to Air Angels, an emergency medical transport service.

He said the victims included three crew members and a patient. He refused to provide further information on the victims, saying the next of kin had yet to be notified of the crash.

According to police, the helicopter crashed in a field near a residential area in east Aurora and was engulfed in flames. He said police and fire officials learned of the crash around midnight.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene of the crash.
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 12:42
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Damn it.

Damn it.

Damn it.

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Old 16th Oct 2008, 13:00
  #3 (permalink)  
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oh my god, not again...

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Old 16th Oct 2008, 14:13
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Reported as a Bell 222.

"Not again" really does sum it up. It's been such a bad year that it's almost inevitable that lawmakers will intervene, just to be seen to 'stop the bleeding' (no irony or offense intended). With this and the economic meltdown, the industry is now facing the perfect storm.
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 14:36
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One more

Seems something is really wrong with those Night VFR HEMS programs.

According to the latest news seems it may have cliped a guy wire from a radio station tower.

Single pilot night flight on HEMS operations is risky bussines.
The pilot workload on HEMS operations is very high and by night multiplies its factor.
A copilot may help to reduce the workload and maybe would help to spot hazards to the flight in time.

I have no magical solutions but something must be done or this is bound to be repeated.
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 15:44
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I have said it before in a similar thread... stop night HEMS

I really do not beleive it will make any significant difference if patient transfer or primary response is reverted to ground ambulances. You will never stop people from trying to kill themselves and at the end of the day as much as I support HEMS, it is becoming an embarrassment in the USA.
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 22:51
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Hold on a minute folks, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater just yet. I am not going to crawl into the deceased pilots cockpit but the weather was pretty crappy yesterday in Aurora. I'm not sure what time the accident occurred or what his flight weather was, but we were down for weather all day yesterday 50 miles south of Aurora due to low ceilings and vis. I am speculating here, and I mean no disrespect to our fallen brethren, but possibly clipping a tower guywire at night sounds like he may have been pushed below his normal night cross country altitude by unexpected weather. In fact he may have been trying to land due to weather, but we don't know at this point. You would not expect to be so low as to hit a guy wire on an interfacility transfer.

We have to step back (especially at night) and assess the risks to the entire crew making sure we are not focusing too closely on the patient and all the surrounding information that should not be part of the go-nogo decision process. While there has been a decided uptick in stateside EMS accidents, this older pilot feels some of these are related to newer less experienced pilots filling the void. Overall, night HEMS ops are being conducted in massive numbers across this country and are being executed in a safe and professional manner. Like it or not, single pilot night HEMS operations are an accepted NORM here in the states and new tools like ANVIS 9 Pinnacle NVG's are making them even safer.

Condolences to the familes and friends of the deceased.
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 22:58
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WTF? You say they're getting safer? Doesn't sound like it if you only read PPRuNe. There seems to be a lot of night hems ops go wrong! Reasons why? pushing the envelope?
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 23:23
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Greetings Helimutt, I am not saying that things are safer right now, they seem decidedly unsafe. I was saying NVG's can make night operations safer. Of course, that's provided you hire qualified, experienced pilots, etc..etc.
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Old 16th Oct 2008, 23:40
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Crap. I live only 30 minutes from the last crash (Maryland State Police near Andrews AFB).

Crap crap crap.

Sad days indeed.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 00:09
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"Like it or not, single pilot night HEMS operations are an accepted NORM here in the states ........"

Time to regulate them out of existence and to go for a new norm.

Twin engined, Category A, with two pilots AND NVG or FLIR.

Yes it will cost money.

Yes the two bit ops will go to the wall.

But better that than losing more friends and colleagues.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 00:34
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Yes, it WOULD COST money and NO, it WON'T HAPPEN unless they kill a Senator or a General (see the changes in the LUH competition following a UH-60 crash in TX) in the process.
Just because of the first paragraph above, who really runs the industry and who the FAA is in bed with.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 01:03
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I flew EMS for 10 years, on and off, and I have always thought every EMS pilot, in fact all commercial pilots, should have an IFR rating with some set number of hours of actual IMC experience. I think a lot of these crashes are IIMC related and speak to the inability or fear of these pilots to transition to instruments and commence IFR flight. IIMC and night Training with a well equipt aircraft could make the difference in some of these events. Its fiscally unrealistic to think the entire system will be revamped to the point these operations are dual pilot, full IFR aircraft, etc, etc.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 02:30
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Links to the latest we have here.

4 killed in helicopter crash in Chicago suburb - USATODAY.com

Crash victim's family thanks Air Angels :: Beacon News :: Local News
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 03:54
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Careerhelodriver, are you serious, it is getting worse not better, this would have to be the worst year to date on record, ever. Don't you read the forums.

NVG's will not help anyone when you are in cloud or heavy rain at night, are you saying that if all the accidents this year in marginal weather would not have happened if NVG's were used, what a load of rubbish, four more good people dead, for what??? for what??? What a disaster your system is.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 04:47
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some facts:
- time of accident: 11:58 (3:58Z)
- guy wire was clipped at approximately 700ft agl (tower is 734ft agl)
- NTSB guy stated that the lights where not on when he got to the scene, however could have been taken out by the accident.

Cold front moved through at roughly that time; metar's indicate that a FEW015 was the lowest all night.

10nm west of crash site:
KARR 160352Z AUTO 33009KT 10SM OVC033 10/07 A3014 RMK AO2 SLP207 T01000072

8nm north-west:
KDPA 160352Z 32007KT 10SM BKN016 OVC023 12/09 A3012 RMK AO2 SLP201 T01170089

25 nm east:
KMDW 160404Z 33011KT 10SM FEW015 OVC028 12/09 A3011 RMK AO2
KMDW 160351Z 33009KT 10SM FEW015 OVC030 12/09 A3011 RMK AO2 SLP194 T01170094
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 05:42
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In an "irony of ironies" situation tomorrow, weather permitting a helicopter is going to be used to replace the severed guy wire in hopes of keeping the tower from collapsing.

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Old 17th Oct 2008, 10:34
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Careerdriver you bring up an interesting point about not focusing too much on the 'patient and all the information that should not be part of the go/no-go decision process', by which I presume you mean the patient condition. We just got a flight request for a patient pickup over 100 miles offshore. It's 2:45 AM and nearby weather stations are reporting a zero temperature/dewpoint spread so we've turned this one down but it occurred to me that maybe we should make the patient condition part of the go/no-go process.

Here's what I mean: This patient could have had anything from a broken ankle to a brain aneurysm for all I know. The decision to ask for a helicopter was made by some medical director somewhere who was either looking at the patient's medical chart or (cynical me) at his insurance card but surely wasn't looking at a weather chart or thinking about the risk involved in bringing a patient in from offshore in the dead of night in marginal weather. He made his medical decision and now it's up to me to make my pilot decision and neither one of us is fully informed.

Of course I can't make judgments on medical necessity any more than a doctor can judge the weather but a medically trained flight dispatcher could. Somebody in the chain of operational control could be in a position to weigh the two and see if a helicopter is really called for. Somebody should. Unfortunately though the health care industry in this country is not driven by medical necessity but by profit so the hospital only thinks about filling a bed and the EMS provider only thinks about billing for a transport; nobody does the cost-benefit analysis and up goes another helicopter, launching into the night to pick up a patient with a broken ankle. And therein lies -I think- the root of this problem.

In a strict sense most of these crashes are a result of CFIT at night in marginal weather (or some variation on that theme) but in a larger sense they are a statistical inevitability -the result of the over abundance of EMS helicopters in this country and their gross over utilization. No amount of additional equipment or training is going to remedy that. It's going to take changes in the way aircraft are allocated to different areas, the way they are utilized and how they are dispatched.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 13:39
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Revolutionary: I absolutely agree with you. I have seen this system at its worst. Launching helicopters to get people out of clinics so doctors can go home....flying people all over the mountains of Montana who were flown only to save an ambulance from having to drive for three hours.... These decisions are being made by medical professionals and medical crew members and in many cases, the reason is almost always so they can bill for the flight. I was almost always, and rightfully so, never made aware of the patients condition until arrival on scene.

To answer those who haven't read closely my previous post: I did not say the accident rate for EMS is getting better, it is getting worse. We all see that! I pointed out some practical ideas to make them safer. The Air Angels flight tragically clipping a 700' AGL guy wire probably could have been avoided.
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Old 17th Oct 2008, 17:52
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It's already been posted, but:

"Damn it.

Damn it.

Damn it."

And already posted, "Hold on a minute folks, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater just yet." Night VFR can be very, very safe. Perhaps not as safe as day VFR, but a heck of a lot safer than we're doing at present. NVGs make an immense contribution to this, but more is needed to make EMS night flights anywhere near as safe as day flights. Twins and singles, VFR and IFR, hospital and community based, all seem to share the increased risk of night flight. If you look at the trend, the common issue is that for some reason the pilot failed at some critical task: managing the autopilot; maintaining altitude; in severe clear VFR and other WX conditions, the pilot failed at something that, as a rule, is accomplished in daytime. Physiology, ladies and gentlemen.
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