But lately, fatalities in air medical crashes are on the rise. This week, the National Transportation Safety Board is holding hearings in Washington, D.C. about how to make medical transportation safer.
Lawson Brawner is the chief pilot of Angel One transport at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
When he’s flying, he knows the life of a child is in his hands.
He says although it can be rewarding, it’s also very challenging.
“It can be a difficult job. You fly day and night, good weather, bad weather, hot and cold,” Brawner says Arkansas Children’s Hospital goes beyond government safety standards. From the send off in the dispatch center, to the take-off, Angel One says it tries to make sure patients are completely safe in the air.
“We have an enhanced ground proximity warning system, we’re one of few helicopter operations in the nation that have that installed on our aircraft,” Brawner said. That’s to warn pilots if they’re approaching the ground without knowing it, something that’s a major cause of helicopter crashes
“That’s a big source of accidents, especially over the last year. Pilots are accidentally running into objects, or a hill, or the ground,” BJ Raysor said from the NTSB hearings in Washington. Raysor is director of aviation operations for Angel One. He’s in Washington D.C. this week, testifying before the National Transportation Safety Board, about air medical safety and how to improve it.
He says there are different challenges with Med-Evacs across the country, but he hopes the NTSB hearings will provide solutions to make medical transport safer for everyone. “I think it’s great that all these stakeholders have gotten together. Everyone’s committed to safety. I think good things will come out of this here,” Raysor said. In the 25 years of operations, Angel One has never had a helicopter crash.
Watch a video report on Arkansas Matters