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Thoughts From A Clinician

Vigilance, my friends.

Screen Shot 2018 06 14 at 07.46.19

As I prepare my flight suit for tomorrows shift, I feel uneasy because there is a calm, quiet chatter in our community, free of the intensity after a loss. I have no doubt that I will return home tomorrow night, navigating the same risks, but feel as though I am always waiting for the "other shoe" to drop when things get quiet and comfortable on social media and in the news.

Sometimes that is good. I enjoyed when we went an entire year without a single fatality. If we back away and look at the larger picture, it is a different result. There will be some that prefer me to not tell you what I see.

I have waited to post this to avoid anyone feeling that it is pointed towards any one event. I also become more frustrated over the years as the names (read: empathetic grief and growing anger) pile on, year after year:

There has been three fatal helicopter air ambulance crashes in about six months, nine crew and one patient died. The public response to it seems to be far less of an outrage and outcry than that of the crash of the NYC tour helicopter that claimed five lives and had one survivor, or even far less than the SINGLE passenger killed when Southwest Airlines had their first fatal incident in forever. Why is that? 

Have we come to accept the deaths of our air medical families? I am convinced the industry as a whole has become numb and has fallen into some sort of apathetic acceptance that we are “dying, doing what we love.” I am not pointing fingers at anyone but us, all of us. 94 percent of crashes are due to human decision making, human error* -- not just the pilot, but the entire crew. No loss of life is acceptable for commercial flight -- zero. What number of fatalities is an acceptable one for helicopter air ambulance? Do we not set the bar? C’mon folks. 

I have lost people close to me, have worked with the entire community to achieve the number of ZERO lost in a crash. I still fly/transport full time and being exposed to the same risks. I feel empathetic, sad, frustrated and at times I am angry. This must stop. It cannot ever become OK or normal.

The helicopter air ambulance community is necessary for the fabric of EMS. We must always strive for a healthy, safe and efficient reputation. We must do better, to the point of outrage if that is what is needed.

Vigilance, my friends.

 

Jonathan Godfrey

 

Reference:

Dr. Ira Blumen, OSI HEMS, et al.

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