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NTSB Safety Board Issues HEMS Recommendations

Sep 14, 2009

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued 19 recommendations regarding Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). These recommendations address various safety issues including pilot training; safety
management systems to minimize risk; collection and analysis of flight, weather, and safety data; flight data monitoring; development of a low altitude airspace infrastructure; and the use of dual pilots, autopilots, and night vision imaging systems (NVIS). The 19 recommendations issued include 10 recommendations to the FAA to address the issues of improved pilot training; collection and analysis of flight, weather, and safety data; flight data monitoring; development of low altitude airspace in infrastructure; and the use of dual pilots, autopilots, and NVIS. The two safety recommendations to the CMS are to evaluate the current HEMS reimbursement rate structure and its relationship to patient transport safety.

Two recommendations are to FICEMS to address coordination and integration of helicopter emergency medical transport into local and regional emergency medical systems and selection of the most appropriate emergency transportation mode for victims of trauma. Finally, five recommendations are to public operators to improve pilot training, flight data monitoring; and the use of dual pilots, autopilots and NVIS. In addition to the recommendations, the Board also asked its staff to draft additional recommendations to CMS regarding safety audit standards.

An abstract of the Board’s actions can be found at
http://ntsb.gov/Publictn/2009/AB09-HEMS.htm.

In related news, the Washington Post has published the following articles with a detailed look at the air medical
transport industry.
Breathing Life Into the Numbers Behind the Crashes
The Deadly Cost of Swooping in to Save a Life
Vanishing in Midair