Air Ambulances and Medical Helicopters
Air ambulances, including medical helicopters (also known as Helicopter Emergency Medical Services or HEMS) and medical transport planes, are supposed to save lives, not take them. In the event of an emergency helicopter crash, patients being transported for emergency care may suffer more severe injuries or even death. In addition, the heroic paramedics, flight nurses and pilots who are trying to save others may lose their own lives or be severely injured.
Factors contributing to medical helicopter accidents include flying in poor weather or at night. In most helicopter medical transport operations, the pilot decides whether to fly, but often times under pressure from responders on the ground, such as police or ground paramedics.
Even in the best flying conditions, medical helicopters have crashed due to poor aircraft maintenance, poor oversight by sponsoring hospitals of helicopter operators and inadequate helicopter pilot training.
In addition, medical helicopters are sometimes used in situations that don’t warrant this effort, such as when a patient has non-life-threatening injuries. In such cases, ground ambulance transport could be the safer option.
Slack & Davis aviation attorneys have extensive experience litigating air ambulance / HEMS cases. Aviation attorney Michael Slack has authored papers and given presentations about how to make air medical services safer. We invite you to download attorney papers and publications and/or contact us to learn more.