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My Two Cents Worth


By Randy Mains


IT APPEARS THE AUSTRALIANS PUT A HIGHER VALUE ON PATIENT SAFETY THAN OUR FAA, NTSB AND EVEN CONGRESS. THAT’S A PRETTY STRONG STATEMENT, ISN’T IT? LET ME TELL YOU HOW I ARRIVED AT THAT CONCLUSION.


When my article “The Power of CRM” appeared in the August 2013 issue of Ro- torcraft Pro my wife, Kaye, and I were in Australia, flown there by the Aeromedical Society of Australasia so that I could de- liver two keynote speeches at their 25th scientific meeting of HEMS operators. My first keynote address was entitled “US Aeromedical Accidents – What Can Australasian HEMS Learn from Our Mis- takes?” On the second day I delivered a keynote address entitled “CRM in Aeromedical Operations -


Why


CRM/AMRM (Air Medical Resource Management) is Absolutely Vital to HEMS Safety.”


On day two of the conference, a Mr. Philip Hogan, announced that legislation is in the works by their Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) that will make their HEMS programs safer by making it mandatory for all air ambulance programs in Australia, helicopter and fixed-wing, to


8 November 2013


conform to part 121 airline standards of operation. What that means for Australian HEMS is mandating the use of twin-en- gine, fully IFR, category A, Class 1 per- formance helicopters using two flight crew. Their action shines a spotlight on the high moral thinking of the Australians who put lives before dollars because, as Phil said in his speech, “A patient does not have a choice to decide if they want to ‘buy a ticket’ to accept a certain level of risk by being transported on a HEMS helicopter, so those patients who cannot choose for themselves must be given the highest level of safety that can be afforded to them.” Wow!


The reality is that 90% of the HEMS programs in Australia already voluntarily comply with the high airline standard. The operators do so for safety reasons. This rulemaking will force those operators not already operating at the higher standard to comply. In my mind, enacting similar leg-


islation in America would most certainly stem the terrible accident rate that has plagued the industry for the past 34 years. While at the conference I received a very enlightening e-mail from retired Con- tinental Airlines pilot, Mike Brezden, who’d read the article I’d written that month on CRM in the August issue of Ro- torcraft Pro. What he wrote is well worth noting here, and he has given me permis- sion to pass along his observations to you. He wrote:


I too, flew as a pilot in a helicopter EMS


program early in my career (1982-1984). Sadly, not much has changed in the indus- try. I left that position, got my fixed-wing ratings, and went on to a 23-year career with Continental Airlines. I consider CRM training at Continental the single most im- portant training I've ever received in avi- ation. It works.


I'm glad to hear that CRM training is now mandated in the helicopter EMS in- dustry. Any additional awareness on the part of the flight crews will help, but un- fortunately, until management is willing to spend the money to make twin-engine IFR the norm, I suspect the accident rate will remain high. Adding a second pilot would


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