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Ntsb Hearings

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I worked with an engineer who had a similar attitude, in that it is always the Pilot's fault,,,well no kidding, if we didn't get into the thing it would never crash so wow,,,guess its the pilot's fault.


If you have a system which allows single pilot night single engine and medevac,,,,,guess what,,,shyte is going to shinola sometime,,,, and soon.....


Have two drivers, nightime and guess what?????You can even sling crap around the artic in the dark, in the white with two engines and wow no accidents....Canadians have done it for decades.....we are not special(well I rode the little bus to school but that is another story),,,we just have strict guidelines,,,


NOT the pilots fault here,,is some stubborn lawmakers and some stubborn people thinking their head is not in the sand....egos are not always huge in the cockpit and this is a prime example.




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1. Does the US have too many EMS helicopters? The US has around 830 helicopters serving an EMS role. Canada has 20. Does competition improve the system or is it a detriment to safety?


2. Should HEMS operators be reimbursed only for patient transfers, or for response and readiness as well? More to the point: does reimbursing only for patient transfers motivate operators to accept as many flights as possible — even ones they shouldn't?




It would be totally unlike me not to comment and this IS a hot issue. I think theres something else you haven't mentioned that I'll discuss at the end.


On your point one, I don't know how Canadia (my intentional misspelling...thats the kind of funny guy I am) can possibly only have 20 EMS helos. Is 830 too many in the US? Hard to say unless you have some idea on how many per major city, etc. If there are 5-6 organisations/assets in one area, absolutely too many. I think THAT'S the real question. Because it IS a free market, those hot spots (major urban areas) will undoubtedly have more aircraft which can lead to multiple responses to one incident. I don't think competition really improves the service...the organisations end up trying to make money by cutting salaries, training budgets, etc and are constantly aware that if they are second to the scene they will have wasted that fuel for no profit. That last (profit) is the current driver for the whole thing and is, in my opinion, counterproductive for the whole industry.


On your point two (sorry, probably a little overlap here), if you make the dollars and cents only about patient movements, you are pushing these organisations into a corner. Firstly, the 'suits' are interested in the business succeeding first, and by making this strictly about patient movements, any other flying (training, currency, upgrading crews) becomes secondary and unprofitable. As a result you end up with crews who are not getting that specialist training or are not able to go out for a currency flight without someone looking over their shoulder and counting the cost. I think your word 'readiness' is as important, if not more so, for all crews.


My final point is about pay. I get the distinct impression that crews are not paid what they are worth in the US industry (people may beg to differ). Because the business is profit driven, crew salaries and benefits are going to be as low as the market will bear. This DOESN'T encourage the most able crews into the industry. Of course there are able crews but some of them (ex US military) are relying on their military retirement income to make up the salary gap...give me a break! The real point here is that a business which is for profit can (unintentionally?) encourage shortcuts of all sorts (if profit is first, where does safety come in...obviously not first).


My rant complete. Perhaps not the most eloquent but there it is.



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how does canada only have 20 dedicated helicopters to EMS?? simple.. not all provinces have them.. Saskatchewan doesn't. the provincial EMS director thinks they don't need them. he and i have had several discussions over the years from when i was a paramedic there..


Manitoba doesn't either, as far as i know.


canadian aeromedical is not a 'for profit" system either, per se... there is no competition between hospitals/service providers to sustain themselves. I think several of these points have been mentioned already.



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Further to my last post...


Ah yes, and the FAA's spokesman told me that EMS safety is primarily the responsibility of the pilot in command, and that pilots are the ones "breaking the rules," and that if pilots want better technology and safer operations, then they, the pilots, are responsible for taking it up with their employers... shock.gif


Things got a little heated at that point. Obviously I'm coming at this from a pilot's perspective, but... un-freakin'-believable!


Now, this is exactly the kind of CRAP I was talking about. Lets see, pilot complains to employer or refuses to fly on certain mission...hmmm, what happens is well known to those aviators. They'll ease them out the door and bring in a 'player' who doesn't ask questions. Friggin (sorry, swear jar) pollys and suits...and this kind of line from the FAA who is saying that they want to reduce accidents by 80%?


(OK, calm down!) Again, in a profit driven EMS culture organisations will most likely see that improvements in equipment (NVG, FLIR, more pilot training, better machines) will cost money and reduce profits. Un-freaking-believable is right!



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Hi Master Cylinder,


Nice to see you in this part of the world! Don't be a stranger.


As it happens, just got off the phone with an industry professional who was also disappointed by what was NOT addressed in the hearings. One of the things that came up in our conversation was a comment made to me by a Canadian who attended the hearings... I think this guy put it best when he said: "The difference between EMS in Canada and the U.S. is that the U.S. has 'acceptable losses.' In Canada, fatalities are unacceptable." (I paraphrase, but that was the gist of it.)


Very true! As long as the industry in the U.S. takes it for granted that a certain number of people are going to die in HEMS accidents each year, we're not going to do everything in our power to bring that accident rate to zero. I think other sectors of the industry — in the U.S. and elsewhere — are also plagued by this idea of "acceptable losses." Accident rates don't look too bad if you think of them as numbers; they look a lot worse if you think of them as people.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Some incredible stats you've put forth Elan...but you are absolutley right...as long as they deem the losses as acceptable, nothing is going to change. Tough competition means that operators have to do everything they can...I'm sure pilots feel huge pressure when considering saying no due to WX when he / she know that the next operator might take the risk and bring in the dollars. Single pilot, single engine night ops into unprepared LZs? Yes, metal will get bent and people hurt. Interesting blog here...a BK 117 EMS pilot Stateside. YOu might have to wade through a few polital posts to get to the EMS stuff but he tells some good tales. http://pitchpull.blogspot.com/



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  • 2 weeks later...

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