Three crewmem­bers killed in med­i­cal he­li­copter crash

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

A med­i­cal he­li­copter crashed in the park­ing lot of an el­e­men­tary school in eastern Kentucky, killing all three crewmem­bers aboard. Wit­nesses de­scribed heavy fog at the time, though fore­cast­ers said there was no se­vere weather. The ac­ci­dent hap­pened in Clay County around 11 p.m. on June 6. “We are dev­as­tated at the loss of th­ese crew mem­bers who we con­sider fam­ily,” com­pany of­fi­cials said. “We have no de­tails re­gard­ing the cause of the ac­ci­dent but will be work­ing with the NTSB in com­ing days as they con­duct their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” (See com­men­tary on med­i­cal avi­a­tion, p. 20) There was no pa­tient on board. The com­pany iden­ti­fied the crewmem­bers as pilot Ed­die Size­more, flight para­medic Her­man “Lee” Dobbs and flight nurse Jesse Jones. They were on their way back to base in Manch­ester af­ter trans­port­ing a pa­tient to a hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, Ky. Com­pany spokes­woman Julie Heavrin said the Bell 206 Lon­gRanger had been “com­pletely re­fur­bished with wiring, com­po­nents” in May 2012 mak­ing it “more pow­er­ful and ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing higher gross weight.” Air Evac Lifeteam op­er­ates 114 bases in 15 states. The last crash in­volv­ing one of its helicopters was in Arkansas in 2010. All three crew mem­bers were killed. Heavrin said Air Evac Lifeteam has had two other fa­tal crashes in the past six years. One in In­di­ana in 2008 killed all three crew mem­bers, as did the other in Alabama in 2007. Judy Owens, for­mer head of the Univer­sity of Kentucky Cen­ter for Ru­ral Heath in Haz­ard, said the moun­tain­ous ter­rain of cen­tral Ap­palachia makes he­li­copter trans­port a must if pa­tients are to ar­rive at ma­jor hos­pi­tals within the so-called “golden hour” that can de­ter­mine whether they live or die. Owens said the flight crews are con­sid­ered heroes in cen­tral Ap­palachia.

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