Elmhurst, IL - The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a series of recommendations regarding Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). These recommendations are the result of last February's 4-day public hearing that critically examined the safety issues concerning this industry. These hearings included various experts in aviation, HEMS operators, hospitals and professional associations related to the HEMS operations.
With the coordination of its aviation vendor, Metro Aviation based in Shreveport, LA, Superior Air Med 1 is already compliant with all 5 of the recommendations “To Public HEMS Operators” as listed under the recommendation synopsis released on September 1, 2009 by the NTSB.
Superior Air Med 1 was the first program in the Chicagoland area to implement Night Vision Goggle (NVG) use. The pilot and the medical crew receive recurrent training on the proper use of NVGs for night HEMS operations.
Metro Aviation, Superior Air Med 1's aviation vendor, has an extensive safety management system in place that includes a risk assessment tool that is completed for each flight.
Superior Air Med 1's newest helicopter, an EC 135 P2+, is equipped with an Outerlink system that records aircraft movement and transmits that information via satellite to its dispatch and operational control center. It also has a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system that records engine performance in flight.
Metro Aviation requires that all of its pilots participate in regularly scheduled scenario-training, including the use of flight simulators. This training includes inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions and other essential emergency procedures.
Superior Air Med 1's newest helicopter, the EC 135 P2+, is equipped with an autopilot and is designed for single pilot Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight. Pilots are trained recurrently in IFR flight and autopilot use.
All of these actions were taken by the management staff of Superior Air Med 1 and Metro Aviation prior to any recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board. In addition to the recommendations listed above, Superior Air Med 1's aircraft has a Helicopter Terrain Avoidance System (HTAWS). This system sounds an audible alert and provides valuable information when obstacles present a hazard to the aircraft and crew. Air Med 1 also has a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). This alerts the pilot of nearby air traffic to help prevent a mid-air collision. All of this equipment and training enhances the pilot's situational awareness during flight, promoting the safety for the pilot, medical crew, patient and ground personnel which is essential to the mission and core values of Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service.