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NEMSPA Attacks Air Medical Aircraft Accidents on Two Fronts

The National EMS Pilots Association is mounting an aggressive campaign to eliminate preventable accidents from helicopter air medical transport operations.

Controlled flight into the terrain (CFIT) is a recurrent tragedy in air medical flights and NEMSPA's two-pronged attack is designed to provide the tools and the changes needed to effectively prevent these tragic crashes.

The Tools

NEMSPA is currently seeking additional funding to conduct an empirical validation study of the optimum trigger conditions for the En route Decision Point (EDP) protocol that they introduced to the air medical transport community in 2009. The study will utilize experienced HEMS pilots in a Level D helicopter simulator to observe the pilots instinctive adjustments to their flight profile as the visibility and/or the ceiling are progressively degraded in simulated flight. The data gathered will be used to fine tune the original parameters of the EDP protocol to insure that use of the protocol by helicopter pilots will prevent inadvertent entry into IMC, day or night and over any kind of terrain.

The Changes

Tools such as the EDP protocol and technology such as night vision goggles and HTAWS are only effective in a culture of cooperation, communication, and compliance. Cultural malignancies in air medical provider organizations have been implicated in too many CFIT, and other types of preventable accidents. NEMSPA's Cultural Health Assessment and Mitigation Program for Safety (CHAMPS) is a survey-based assessment of an organization's safety culture developed specifically for air medical provider organizations. The results of the CHAMPS assessment can reveal weaknesses in a culture that could make an organization more vulnerable to the risks inherent in helicopter EMS operations.

For more information on the EDP and CHAMPS projects or to learn how you or your organization can provide support for these important safety initiatives, visit the NEMSPA website at www.nemspa.org.

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