13 Medical Helicopter Crash Statistics


On the subject of medical helicopter crash statistics, there are several things that must be kept in mind. In the first place, it is absolutely essential to understand that medical helicopters perform an extremely valuable, essential service within the medical community. It is also worth remembering that the individuals who pilot and work from these helicopters are performing a service to individuals whose value cannot be underestimated.

And finally, the dangers inherent in working on a medical helicopter is something that must be kept in mind, as well. All of these factors, in addition to several others, should be weighed during any study of medical helicopter crash statistics.

Medical Helicopter Crash Stats

Some have called the use of helicopters in the event of a medical emergency into question. Numerous studies and investigations into crashes have brought attention to a number of aspects to the use of helicopters during medical emergencies that many consider to be very troubling. For example, a 2011 study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pointed to a number of alarming statistics and other pieces of information.

The use of helicopters for medical emergencies is not a practice that is likely to disappear anytime soon. However, many continue to question the wisdom of using helicopters to respond to a medical situation. Regardless of how you feel about helicopters being utilized in this regard, there are a number of statistics and facts on the subject that must be considered.

If you are hoping to use medical helicopter crash statistics to define your opinion on the subject, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Helicopter medical workers are referred to as HEMS workers.
2. Between 1983 and 2011, there have been two hundred and thirty medical helicopter crashes.
3. Helicopter EMS workers typically provide safe transport from the site of the emergency to a medical facility for almost four hundred thousand people each year.
4. Safety practices for HEMS workers includes training pilots, checking that all equipment is at optimal functional capability, and maintaining safe operation of the aircraft at all times.
5. While many HEMS operators implement all of the above into their use of medical emergency helicopters, recent studies indicate that these safety practices are not being universally applied by all HEMS operators.
6. Studies show that not all air ambulance workers and operators are receiving the same level of safety training.
7. The crash/fatality statistics for the past few years point to a strong possibility that critics of HEMS are perhaps justified in their concern for the implementation and consistent execution of safety practices. For example, in 2003, there were nineteen accidents, with a total of seven deaths from those accidents. The very next year saw a decrease in accidents with thirteen accidents total, but a striking increase in fatalities with eighteen deaths overall. 2008 was particularly alarming, as there thirteen accidents, with a shocking twenty-nine fatalities.
8. After 2008, the HEMS profession went an impressive forty-nine weeks without a single accident occurring. This changed in September of 2009, with a helicopter crash that claimed three lives.
9. Between late 2009 and late 2010, there were twenty-two fatalities from HEMS crashes.

Let’s take a look at some of the information that came from a conference held in 2009 by the NTSB:

1. A 2009 conference held by the NTSB was highlighted by aggressive demands for definitive, all-encompassing changes to the HEMS field. These suggested changes included better training for pilots, better equipment for the aircrafts used, improvements to airspace infrastructure, reimbursement to CMS, and much more.
2. The same conference emphasized a strong desire for the FAA to establish required scenario-based training for emergency helicopter workers and operators.
3. It is worth mentioning that there is no universal helicopter that is utilized by emergency helicopter workers and operators.
4. Overall, the fatal accident rate for HEMS operators is roughly 1.18 per one hundred thousand hours. By comparison, the fatal accident rate for general aviation/air-taxi flights is roughly 1.13 per one hundred thousand hours.

Working On A Medical Helicopter

No one is going to deny that medical helicopter workers have one of the most challenging, difficult jobs in the entire medical profession. While keeping in mind all the various components that must be juggled while flying any sort of helicopter to begin with, medical helicopter works are responsible for maintaining the health of a patient. This must be done while they are in the air, while the pilot is responsible for making sure the helicopter gets to the actual medical facility as quickly and safely as possible.

Without keeping these things in mind, looking over medical helicopter crash statistics is not going to give you the complete picture you need. While medical helicopter crash stats are certainly worth taking a look at, it’s important to understand the various components that determine those statistics in the first place.