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“old fashioned way” and he had misgivings about the new fangled technology anyway. He slowly walked to the helicopter and casually walked around to insure that the big pieces were still there. He thought to himself that he really should do a more thorough preflight but had left his flashlight in crew quarters. Besides, he had thoroughly checked the aircraft five days ago at hitch change and it really had flown only once since then. He only did a really thorough by-the-book pre-flight if either the FAA or Check Airman was watching.


It felt a


little sloppy to him but he had other things on his mind this evening. He had been counseled a few times by the Lead Pilot for missing a few key items on his preflight that led to a cowling flying off at a hover and a shore power cord dropping off at two hundred feet but he felt his long tenure at the program and popularity made him essentially invul- nerable, ten feet tall and bullet-proof.


THE CLINICIANS: The medical crew consisted of a veteran flight


nurse and a gung-ho yet brand new flight para- medic.


Jan had been a flight nurse for over ten


years now and nothing much fazed her. She had seen pilots come and go at the program but was good friends with John, tonight’s pilot.


They had


been through some trying times and a few close calls together but now she was very comfortable with John and never questioned his decisions. They had plans to meet next week for a family picnic


at the State fair next weekend. Our


evening’s paramedic, Chad, was a veteran fire fight- er paramedic and prior Army Special Forces medic with some experience in the Gulf War years ago. He was the poster child for physical fitness and bravado. His paramedic skills were legend at the county fire department and this was his first shift after completing the very short indoctrination hur- riedly completed by the program last week. Most of the training was oriented toward the equipment and clinical protocols.


His crew resource manage-


ment (or Air Medical Resource Management (AMRM)) training was postponed until the annu- al training cycle met in six months. He had some reservations about his readiness but knew that he was with an experienced crew and would just fol- low their lead. Jan had gone through so many AMRM classes she could recite the redundant points in her sleep.


COMMUNICATIONS: The Communications Specialist was crammed into a small room that could well have doubled as


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL 40


a closet. They had most of the radios and phones required to get an aircraft off the ground but flight following was weak due to a lack of repeaters and alternate methods to track an aircraft in flight. It was cramped and stuffy and a hard place to sit in for hours. There really wasn’t enough business at night to warrant a relief specialist at night so if he need- ed a break the phones and radios simply went un- manned. Bill was on duty for his tenth straight night shift and had come in six hours early due to a sick call. He had been at the program for about five years and felt it was certainly a more comfortable way to make a living than riding a truck on those foggy cold nights as a medic. He had heard far too many rumors that the program was in financial jeop- ardy and was going to make sure he captured every flight possible.


The operator’s operational control


was just a paperwork drill for the FAA but really ineffective in overseeing pilot decision-making.


THE FINAL MINUTES: The call from the rural fire department dis-


patch came in at 03:25 to Bill for a multi-car acci- dent with serious life threatening injuries. That dis- patch said that


enroute and they urgently needed help.


the other nearby program was Bill dili-


gently copied the information and rousted the pilot from what was apparently a very deep sleep. John heard the tones go off but couldn’t find the radio to respond. He was groggy and somewhat disori- ented but the cobwebs slowly dissipated as he rolled out of bed.


John didn’t remember if he had


checked the weather before falling into bed nor whether he had updated their weather status. Earlier in the evening he had seen some halos around the street lights and felt a little more mois- ture than usual in the air but never really checked the temperature and dew points in the region. When he finally put together the dispatch informa- tion together in his head and heard the urgency in Bill’s voice he began to move a little quicker. He meant to check the computer based weather in that very dark and hilly part of the county but as he walked to the helicopter he saw stars through the pitch black night and decided it would be just fine. Communications hadn’t mentioned any weather issues nor relayed that the competitor had turned around five minutes into their flight since no one told him. John hurriedly climbed into the cockpit. He cursed at himself that his flashlight was still sit- ting on the bedside table but knew it was only a fifteen minute leg to the scene. As he strapped in, the crew arrived at the helicopter and were climb- ing aboard as he pulled the trigger to get going. He


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