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WHEN WE HAVE LOOKED AT EMS HELI- COPTER ACCIDENTS OVER THE YEARS WE HAVE CONTINUED TO COME UP WITH THE VERY SAME PROBABLE CAUSES AGAIN AND AGAIN.


bravado imbued in us by the stressful combat environment. There


were no real weather minimums and little sense of the risks asso- ciated with pilot fatigue and duty time. The result was an incred- ibly high EMS accident rate that resulted in the first significant rules from the FAA attempting to mitigate the tragic and senseless acci- dents the industry was experiencing in the early to mid 1980’s. Upon my return from Viet Nam, I was an aircraft command- er for a Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic unit in 1971.


All


of our pilots were brave combat veterans and we took the culture of taking risks to save lives right into the civilian EMS world. The risk and results were somewhat similar to those experienced by the Medevac (DUSTOFF) crews in Viet Nam minus the bullets and things that went boom. It seemed that far too often we would lose another crew to a weather related accident on a life-saving mission. Burying friends and comrades got real old fast.


Often it was night


with marginal weather and on the way to or from a life saving mis- sion. Somehow we needed to get the attention of the few pilots who were so motivated to save lives and push into the jaws of danger beyond reason. They gave purple hearts and air medals for such behavior during war but was it appropriate in this new envi- ronment? We were all motivated by the rescuer mentality and “white knight” syndrome. It just seemed like it was what we were all about. When we have looked at EMS helicopter accidents over the


years we have continued to come up with the very same proba- ble causes again and again. We continue to see human factors such as poor “decision making” and “loss of situational awareness” surface in NTSB accident reports time and time again. These are truly


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