Air Medical Safety and the Fire Service

Our recent news announcing proposed FAA rule revisions on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) and a public hearing by the NTSB in February 2009 cry out for fire service involvement (see: www.fireengineering.com/display_article/346289/25/none/none/HLTHS/FAA-and-NTSB-react-to-air-medical-crashes). 2008 promises to end as the most catastrophic year in the history of HEMS. Sound familiar? Any firefighter would feel the deja vu. With a history of grabbing the safety bull by the horns, confronting tough issues, naming problems, and taking opportunities for improvement, I’d say the fire service has a whole lot to contribute to any industry in the throws of safety troubles. But wait, there’s more. The FAA suggested last year that ground providers contribute to unsafe HEMS operations. We do this by “helicopter shopping” or calling around until we find a HEMS willing to respond in whatever adverse conditions exist at or around our scene. Is the fire service part of the HEMS problem? Maybe. Can we be part of the solution? Absolutely.

Mike McEvoy
EMS Technical Editor
Fire Engineering