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The Need for Reality

HEMES Scenario Based Training -


It wasn’t too many years ago that most helicopter operators in the US conducting EMS operations would hire a pilot, then in company training validate that pilot to commercial standards per the Federal Aviation Regulations, and quickly send him to a field base to con- duct EMS operations for a customer without so much as telling him what the EMS mission he was about to perform was all about. It wasn’t a FAA require- ment to train to the mission, but it was a requirement to train the pilot to operate the aircraft safely while conducting the mission, whatever that mission might be. That is where a major problem lied and many operators didn’t realize it was an issue that needed to be dealt with. For the new pilot though arriving at an assigned medical base, most got caught up very quickly in the whirlwind of learning a new aircraft, a new area of operations, and these new passengers who were now also required crewmem- bers. Often times he was also unknow- ingly exposed to the politics of competi- tive issues between medical organizations and what that meant to his performance as an EMS pilot. This competitiveness related directly to his capability to pro- vide a quick response time for a flight


request which logically defied the princi- ples of operating the aircraft safely. Launching an aircraft in the middle of the night to an unknown location in unknown weather in minimum time, often in just minutes, and not being unable to properly prepare for the flight as trained, created a stress level many pilots did not want to deal with. Was it any wonder a company’s turnover rate for pilots hovered in the double digits for many years as operators struggled to keep up with the demand for more pilots to fill their aircraft seats in an ever expanding HEMES industry? The aviation operators kept providing pilots with minimum training and hopefully the pilots would figure out the world of EMS without killing themselves doing it. To the credit of the helicopter pilots who were sitting in those seats, many did figure it out. Unfortunately, some didn’t. But the question today facing the industry is this. What was missing from the training or knowledge of the mission in those pilots that did not make it that needs to be corrected now? That is a very hard question to answer but here are some thoughts about it.

When an accident occurs the National Transportation Safety Board



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