The U-S-A today report shows 10-percent of this country's air ambulance force has crashed in the last five years. If you put that into commecial airline numbers it would mean 90-jetliner crashes.
Careflight the air ambulance service for our area has a pretty clean safety record. The last fatal crash was back in 19-91 the day before Thanksgiving. But unfortunately there have been other air ambulance crashes here in Nevada.
According to the USA Today report, too many of these crashes are occuring nationally, and their incidence has increased over the last five years. The report cites lax oversight and pilots who feel pressure to fly even in poor weather.
Maggie Tole RN, CareFlight Nurse, "We make sure the pilot does not feel pressured. You don't question the pilot when he says no, when he says no you don't go."
Tole believes no one benefits when the safety of the medical flight crew is put at risk. At Careflight, anyone on crew can make the call to abort a mission for any reason. She says she's done it herself. That has not changed, but what has is the technology to help pilots make the best call under various weather conditions. These days Tole says weather tracking information is readily available which can help predict what will happen during the flight, pickup, and on the way home. U-S-A Today also questions whether air ambulance services aren't motivated more by profit, where companies can receive about 75-hundred dollars per flight usually reimbursed by insurance or Medicare.
Maggie Tole RN, CareFlight Nurse, "I don't get paid if I bring in 12 patients a month or I bring in 20 patients. I get paid the same amount. So do the pilots. There is no flying incentive. I get paid to sit there or to fly."
Tole says there's no one way to explain the USA Today numbers, she says its best for each individual air ambulance agency including CareFlight to reassess their policies and procedures so they don't become a statistic.