Michael Slack Weighs in on STAR Flight Investigation


Michael Slack offered comments and insight to KVUE-TV news, after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its preliminary report about the medical helicopter incident that resulted in the loss of a flight nurse. Kristin McLain died on April 27th, during a rescue.

mike slack aviation KVUE 050615

Michael Slack, Slack & Davis, on KVUE-TV.

AUSTIN — While the STAR Flight community is reeling from the loss of flight nurse Kristin McLain, who died on April 27 after falling during a rescue, Austin attorney Mike Slack says air ambulance accidents are actually all too common.

Slack has been an aviation attorney for 25 years and said STAR Flight is one of the air ambulance operations with an excellent track record.

While the STAR Flight community is reeling from the loss of flight nurse Kristin McLain, who died on April 27 after falling during a rescue, Austin attorney Mike Slack says air ambulance accidents are actually all too common.

“They’ve made good selections of pilots, made good decisions of when they fly,” Slack said. “They probably made real good decisions about when they don’t fly.”

Still, he said, rescuers have a risky job.

“The risk of injury or death in the work place for a flight paramedic or a flight nurse was second only to risk to injury or death of coal miners,” Slack said. “That’s a very alarming statistic.”

Slack said the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, released this week, doesn’t offer any answers, just basic facts. He said in his experience, an investigation like this could take more than two years, and even when it’s finished, there’s no certain outcome.

“It’s the full spectrum of perhaps not a clear and concise conclusion all the way to a laundry list of corrective actions,” Slack said.

Slack said even if the NTSB finds something that needs to be fixed, there’s no assurance it will happen. He said the FAA is the only organization that can compel changes, such as more training or safety enhancements, and in his experience, they are slow to react to NTSB recommendations.

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