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thought to himself that perhaps someone should have walked around but they were in too big a hurry this


time. They all knew that a quick


launch looked good to management and this was an urgent call requiring their services right away. They were a crew whose dedication to the pro- fession of saving lives was admirable. They real- ly cared about this avocation of service and would go to any lengths to help others. The new paramedic had mumbled some-


thing to the flight nurse as they rode up the ele- vator to the helipad.


It was some vague remark


from his county medic buddy earlier that evening reporting heavy fog on the hilltops. She was too busy going over rapid sequence intubation pro- cedures in her head and the weather comment went unattended. Besides, she had seen the bright stars over the helipad as they walked to the hel- icopter as well.


She knew that her experienced


pilot for the evening wouldn’t push if the weath- er got gnarly especially after the close call they had last shift. John gave his takeoff information to the


communications center and yanked the aircraft into the night.


The flight over the city lights was


clear and smooth. As they reached the end of the city glow below them he tried desperately to


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 COM- FORTABLE WAY TO MAKE A LIVING THAN RIDING A TRUCK ON THOSE FOGGY COLD NIGHTS AS A MEDIC.


see into the pitch black terrain in front of them. A few wispy clouds passed around them but the mushy darkness ahead warned ominously or per- ils ahead. John was busy trying to identify the intermittent flash of a panel caution light that dis- tracted him from the route ahead. He had flown this route many times before.


His altitude was


good enough for the next mile or so but he dared not climb too high as the wispy clouds might indicate a ceiling closer than expected. He still could not see any lights ahead nor any hori- zon. His attempt to contact the communications center went unanswered. He anxiously told the crew that they should see the next town lights very soon as the GPS indicated it was only two miles ahead of them. He was considering turn- ing around but thought he should see lights and horizon any time now. The crew was acting a bit


nervous but said nothing. They knew that John had plenty of experience and would never push. John was getting very nervous now and ponder- ing climbing into the clouds for an instrument recovery. His last instrument work was well over eight months ago and he had little confidence in those skills. The team never spoke up nor knew what they hit that dark night.


micro-second. This time they were


It was over in a about a


minute too late to turn around. abcd


Authors Note: This article is basically an updated version I wrote for the Air Medical Journal titled “The Next Accident” in 2001. It does not reflect any particular persons, companies, or


situations. None of the people in the story are real but it very well could have been any of us…or could yet be.


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