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Monday, September 28, 2009

Life Saver or Life Taker?

A New Era for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS)
An Aviation Today Webinar

Thursday, October 29, 2009
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (ET)

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) operations provide an important service to the public by transporting seriously ill patients and donor organs to emergency care facilities, often from remote areas not served by adequate facilities. These operations are unique and complex, mixing highly advanced medical care with the technical challenge of safely operating helicopters 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

U.S. HEMS operations are conducted by some 20 companies, utilizing an estimated 750 helicopters for 60 hospital-based programs. Each year, about 400,000 seriously ill patients are transported in all but the worst weather conditions. By some measures, pilots of emergency medical helicopters have the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., racking up fatalities at a faster clip than loggers and other historically risky professions.

For the HEMS industry, 2008 was the deadliest year on record with 12 accidents and 29 fatalities, earning the sector a spot on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.

A senior Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air safety official says additional safety devices, pilot training and air safety procedures will be mandated as part of new rulemaking for helicopter emergency medical services operations. A HEMS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to be published in 2010 is expected to go into effect in 2011. The new safety requirements will significantly alter how helicopter-borne air ambulance operations will be conducted in the future.

That’s why Aviation Today has put together a webinar that asks some of the world’s top helicopter air safety experts to provide a realistic assessment of the status of helicopter emergency medical services today. Our expert panel will analyze recent HEMS accidents and incidents and look ahead to the new rules and regulations from the FAA governing such operations.

This webinar will examine how today’s medical helicopter industry trends will affect the way you do business – and your bottom line.

Anyone involved in the operation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, manufacture, purchase, lease, regulation, or safety of medical helicopters will be interested in this timely and informative 60-minute webinar, scheduled for Thursday, October 29, at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Our experts will address these issues:

    •    Pilot Training:  Should EMS pilots be required to undergo training, including FAA-approved scenario-based simulator training, for inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions and hazards unique to HEMS operations?
    •    Safety Management Systems: Should HEMS operators be required to implement SMS programs that include sound risk management practices?
    •    Flight Safety Equipment: Should HEMS operators be required to install flight data/cockpit voice recorders in their rotorcraft, night vision systems and Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning Systems (HTAWS) that warn pilots if they are close to hitting the ground?
    •    Data Collection: Should helicopter emergency medical services operators be required to report activity on at least an annual basis to include total hours flown, revenue flight hours flown, revenue miles flown, patient transports completed, and number of departures?
    •    Autopilots/Dual Pilots: Should HEMS operators be required to equip their helicopters with autopilots and train pilots to use the autopilot if a second pilot is not available?
    •    Reimbursement: Should Medicare payments for medical flights be limited to HEMS operators who meet new higher safety standards? The Safety Board believes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should create and require safety audits for HEMS operators. They would be required to adhere to the higher safety standards to continue receiving Medicare payments for medical flight services.

Hear from these experts:


Robert Sumwalt
Member, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Gary Sizemore
Spokesman and Past President,
National EMS Pilots Association

Dr. Bryan Bledsoe, MD
Emergency Physician, Researcher and EMS author.
Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine

Ernie Stephens
Former Editor-in-Chief, Rotor & Wing magazine


Ramon Lopez
Editor-in-chief, Air Safety Week

A New Era for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS)
An Aviation Today Webinar

Thursday, October 29, 2009
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (ET)

To register for the HEMS webinar go to:

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