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Advances in helicopter design, engineering, and production have also contributed to the reliability of modern turbine engines, transmissions and airframes. “One of the best examples of how this technology has helped HEMS is with one of our children’s hospitals, where a 24-week premature baby was delivered and in need of hospitalization,” says Jeanette Eaton, vice president of Sikorsky Commercial Strategy & Business Development. “The crew knew if they placed the baby in a ground ambulance or airplane, the vibrations could burst the brain vessels in the baby’s head. So they chose the Sikorsky S-76D with active vibration control, which completed the mission without incident.”


These advances alongside autopilots, crash resistant fuel systems, flight data monitoring systems, and the adoption of formal safety management systems (SMS) have made HEMS flights today safer and more reliable than ever before. “At one point, nearly 70% of all HEMS accidents were related to visual degradation, including entering IIMC and suffering from spatial disorientation,” says Tom L. Baldwin, GMR’s vice president of safety. Thanks to technological and training advances, this is no longer the case.


As for the future? The day could come when unmanned aerial systems (UAS) play a role in HEMS. “To what extent is unclear,” Baldwin says. “However, there are responses such as organ procurement that seem to hold promise.”


What is certain is that helicopters will continue to play a critical role in EMS response. Since that 1944 HEMS mission in Burma, there has been no substitute for this transport technology.


rotorcraftpro.com


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