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EMS Helicopter Crash in Illinois


montu
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I'm wondering if they were even using nvgs. I don't think a majority of the EMS community use nvgs yet, however, it seems companys are starting to incorporate nvgs into their operations so as to provide added safety for the crews during night flights, and to cut down the risks associated with flying at night.

 

Had the pilot been using nvgs during the flight? Was the radio tower's exact location known by the pilot? Was he even aware that there was a radio tower in the vicinity of his airspace? Was he a fresh pilot to the area in which he didn't know very well? All very important questions the NSTB will be looking into, and some more.

 

Its sad to have been hearing about all the crashes of EMS aircraft within the last few months. Usually you don't hear of too many helicopters crashing within the U.S so frequently, then all of a sudden EMS aircraft across the nation are dropping out of the sky. What gives?

 

Very very tragic to hear about. R.I.P to the crew and victim aboard.

Edited by RagMan
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First off, it is a sad day and my prayers to the friends and family of those killed.

 

 

Someone asked how well you can see wires under NVGs? Not very well. In fact horizontal lines such as wires are not picked up very well. That is why under NVG's we look for the towers just like you would durring the day time. We then also fly over said towers.

 

Once you get down to about 200' agl maybe even a little lower you will be able to see the wires if there is enough light out there. Light, such as the moon or even a spot light from the aircraft. Then you could highlight the wires.

 

In this case the accident helicopter was enroute and looks to have hit guide wires from a tower. These wires don't run from the tower at a big angle. Let say about 30 degrees. So to hit those you'd have to be either really low or really close to the tower or both. You would not have seen said wires until it's too late.

 

Did he see the tower? Who knows? Was he under NVG's? Who knows? How was the weather? Weather will affect the NVG's. Did the pilot know the tower was even there, meaning, is it charted, lit and things like that?

 

NVG's are a great tool but have limits. The benifits out weigh the cons and there are somethings that NVG's can get you with. So, they are not the end all be all. Rather just another tool to add to the others that you should be using as well.

 

This is not the first time a helicopter has hit guide wires from a tower. There are still many questions. So, we do not have all the facts.

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I was just talking about this with my dad and CFI and they both seemed to share the same sentiment especially the CFI, who said something along these lines. The ems companys these days are in such demand these days because of the growing guidelines of what is considered to need airlifts. Airlifts used to only be for fatal injuries which needed immediate attention but now has become an industry that is willing to respond to far less serious injuries in order to make more money. My CFI said one of his previous students who is a medflight pilot now is responding to calls as minor as broken legs, and allergies to peanuts. The growing of the industry has also lowered the standards of pilot experience in the industry, a guy fresh out of his commercial rating with my CFI got a job with medflight with 200 hours, 20 of which were turbine. People are abusing the avalibilty of med choppers, and the busy industry is scrambling to keep up, and lowering the safety of the industry.

Its strangely ironic to see med choppers , who are there to get people to safety, go down more and more.

 

Its a true shame, r.i.p.

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I was just talking about this with my dad and CFI and they both seemed to share the same sentiment especially the CFI, who said something along these lines. The ems companys these days are in such demand these days because of the growing guidelines of what is considered to need airlifts. Airlifts used to only be for fatal injuries which needed immediate attention but now has become an industry that is willing to respond to far less serious injuries in order to make more money. My CFI said one of his previous students who is a medflight pilot now is responding to calls as minor as broken legs, and allergies to peanuts. The growing of the industry has also lowered the standards of pilot experience in the industry, a guy fresh out of his commercial rating with my CFI got a job with medflight with 200 hours, 20 of which were turbine. People are abusing the avalibilty of med choppers, and the busy industry is scrambling to keep up, and lowering the safety of the industry.

Its strangely ironic to see med choppers , who are there to get people to safety, go down more and more.

 

Its a true shame, r.i.p.

 

Yes, EMS flies patients that might not need to be flown. There's lots of considerations in the decision to fly, all reviewed by the time we get there. If it's an inappropriate transport request, the issue will be dealt with by that agency on the case review. It's not our job to provide medical supervision outside the company. Nobody likes BS calls, especially when we're not going to be paid for them. Insurance companies won't pay without medical necessity, and lots of the trauma victims flown have no insurance at all. Often, nobody knows the patients name, much less fiscal status when the decision is made to transport.

Yep, it's appropriate to call for medevac for other than immediately life-threatening injuries. I'm not medical so I can't address the flight justification, but a broken leg is not a minor injury.

 

"The growing of the industry has also lowered the standards of pilot experience in the industry, a guy fresh out of his commercial rating with my CFI got a job with medflight with 200 hours, 20 of which were turbine."

 

"§ 135.243 Pilot in command qualifications.

...

(2) Has had at least 500 hours time as a pilot, including at least 100 hours of cross-country flight time, at least 25 hours of which were at night;"

 

Perhaps the "guy fresh out of his commercial rating" got one of the very, very few SIC seats in the industry? I'll bet he's not an EMS PIC in the US. Yes, formal minimum requirements have gone down from 3000 and 4000 hours PIC, to as little as 1500 for an exceptional individual. Generally, one needs at least 200 hours of just night experience...

Edited by Wally
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The guy all over the news saying "...less than 25% are medically necessary....and the other 75% walked out of the hospital within a few hours...." may be correct, but there's a lot more to that.

 

It's all about the mechanism of injury and the level of care provided. If someone has been ejected out of a vehicle and is bleeding, they are usually flown to the nearest trauma center. After they get a CT they might just need a few stitches and a bandaid--or they might need a lot more. On the scene of the accident, this can't be determined. The ground crew has protocals to follow. If this patient is driven to the nearest local hospital, and then DOES have a head bleed, now they're looking at least another hour to get them to a trauma center.

 

Same goes for what looks like a heart attack or a stroke. You have about 2 hrs to get someone to a stroke center or a very limited amount of time to get them to a cath lab. After they get there, they might be fine; but what if they weren't--now they're dead or in a nursing home the rest of their life.

 

So everyone looking back saying "they didn't need to be flown" is full of $hit. They need to look how the patient presented when the decision to fly was made.

 

Futhermore, the aircrews have little to no say about what/who they can transport. Once we arrive on a scene call, we MUST fly the patient since our nurse is the highest level of care. If the helicopter won't start back up or weather moves in, the nurse and medic have to go in the ground ambulance or it's considered abandonment. On hospital transfers, the referring Dr. signs a form of medical necessity, who are we to argue that?

 

Now there's a lot of abuse of the system. Drs. making room in their ERs by shipping out patients, patients refusing to go local hospitals and demanding to be flown, rural ground crews not wanting to make a 2 drive to the city around shift change time, etc. In all these situations, it's all on them. THEY MUST REQUEST/CALL THE HELICOPTER. We do not just drop out of no where into hospitals and scenes.......that's illegal.

 

BTW, knew the pilot on the IL crash. Really nice guy. Went through orientation with him at another company about 4 yrs ago. A real gentleman. He will be missed.

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Sad truth- medical mistakes kill more people than guns, cars, and on the job accidents- combined. Yeah, tell me somebody didn't need to be flown, monday morning quarterback. The guys on the scene do the hard part, take the crap behind it, and do it dozens of times a shift. My favorite medic story is the 3 AM call to a guy who couldn't sleep because of roaches...

 

I've flown folks who started the flight talking, seemed okay in my non-professional opinion, who then coded en route. Argue about the stats after the fact, and welcome to it.

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I have almost hit that tower before it is pretty hard to spot for a veriety of reasons.

 

First of all, it was lit, but only with a red light on top no strobes.

secondly it is in a farm of antennas but its top is at 1449MSL and the others are in the 1000-1200 range.

finally, on his heading, about 070 heading toward the childrens momorial hospital he has the entire sea of chicago lights blending in with it. Elevation there is a hair over 700ft. so he was about 700 ft AGL when he hit. He hit the guy wire abotu 40ft from the top of the tower. With the angle those guy wires run at, that puts him about 40 ft below, and 40 feet laterally from the top strobe itself. I have a couple of theories.

One is that because he was below it he could not see the top strobe and thought that the next light 100 or so feet down was the top of the tower. the other is that he mistook one of the other towers for the 1449foot tower.

Where he was at, he was under the 4000' ring of bravo airspace, about to enter the 3000' ring. Since his destination was in the 1800' ring, I'm sure he was planning on staying under 1800' so he wouldn't have to mess with talkign to o'hare. Why he was at 1400 and not 1600-1700 I could not say.

Either way, its another good pilot dead for no good reason. My condolences to his family and friends.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think EMS pilots on the whole fly too low. When I worked in Chicago I observed many low flights by Lifestar out of Loyola (500agl). I do not know why pilots choose to fly so low, maybe flying a BK gives a false sense of security with 2 engines. Unless you are down town you are not going to hit anything at 1000agl. I know the antenna AA hit and know it is hard to see. Reason enough to fly 1000agl there. I am not second guessing the pilot just stating my decision when flying in that area. Condolences to the families.

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