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Reader Opinion on HEMS


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Hello all,


In the October 2012 issue of Rotorcraft Pro, my letter from the Editor was titled E-M-Mess.


http://content.yudu.com/A1vzrl/October2012 (page 2) In it, I bring attention to many of the messy facets of HEMS and what some of the outside perceptions of that sector might be. Additionally, I touch on whether or not profit motives steer decisions made which impact safety.


I have received many emails on the overall theme of the October 2012 issue, which is that basically HEMS needs to do better.


Below is an email that I received from a reader. He gave me permission to post it anonymously. I received many like it. I though it might be instructive to see how one person, who is not an EMS pilot, but an aviator, views HEMS. I thought I would share it as a point of discussion. - Lyn


Dear Mr. Burks,


I was reading your article in the latest Rotorcraft Pro E-M-Mess! I find the whole article to be an understatement. If I have my way, I will never ride on an EMS helicopter by choice. I would rather be carried out on a stretcher, or take a bumpy ride in a pickup bed.


I am sure you are wondering why I would make such a rash statement, so an explanation is due. From my observation of the system there seems to be a lack of maturity in a few of the EMS helicopter pilots.


While I was working at Lakeport (1O2) California, on numerous occasions, I was witness to cowboying, and unsafe maneuvers by the local EMS detachment.


1. On several occasions there were low level high speed passes with pedal turns to return back over the same track that was just flown (return to target as we called it in the military).

2. Unnecessary operation outside of the Height–velocity envelop.

3. Slow, low over flights of structures when not necessary.

4. High speed approaches with a quick stop.


Helicopters are a lot of fun to fly, and I can do various things with them, but at some point if I keep it up, it is going to bite me on the backside.


I have a Luscombe aircraft, which is a two seat side-by-side aircraft, and weighs a mere 1400 fully loaded. While refueling in Kingman AZ the local EMS helicopter slowly hovered out, and overlapped the tip path plane with my right wing. Hover height was about 20 feet, and I had to hold on to a wing to keep my aircraft from spinning around or flipping over. The whole scene was unnecessary as there was enough space on the tarmac to avoid flying over or near airplanes.

I spoke to the local FBO about it, and they said the EMS people were in the habit of dusting people off, and blowing debris into the hanger. I called the home office in Phoenix and all I got was the runaround. I believe it was one their helicopters that had a mid-air going into the hospital at Flagstaff AZ.


By the way did I mention that I spent 26 years in the army in Flight Safety, and Standards as an IP, SIP, and Instrument flight examiner? Does EMS have a problem, you bet. I am sure there are many fine professional aviators flying EMS, but I have seen enough of the other type that I do not want anything to do with the organization.

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Rather interesting e-mail Lyn. I must say however, these issues the Author brings up is not limited in scope to HEMS. I have seen it and read the NTSB reports of accidents in which being a "cowboy" was a factor in the event in other sectors of our industry. It is true there are a lot more young pilots now in our industry but many of them are professional and fly as such.


I can't but help to think the Author may be a little bias by having a Military background. While it is true the Military has a great training program and their pilots often are very professional, they too have "cowboys". You don't need to look far to see it. The recent UH-60s that went for a swim in Lake Tahoe (some how flew out of that). Look on youtube and you will see many Military and Civilian pilots doing stupid things.


It isn't a Military, Civilian, young, old problem. It is a human, personality and attitude problem that spans the industry, not just Civilian but Military as well.

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