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Vanderbilt air ambulance experts available to talk about air ambulance safety standards

Jan. 25, 2006, 2:24 PM

What: The National Transportation Safety Board will release a report on air ambulance services, standards and safety.

Who: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which has a 21-year accident free operation, is the first dedicated air medical operation in the U.S. to deploy the American Eurocopter EC 145 equipped with the latest in state of the art avionics specially designed to operate in the nighttime and inclimate weather environment. VUMC operates four helicopters and one fixed wing and is the largest IFR program in

Tennessee .

Available to speak on this issue include:

– John Morris, M.D., medical director of Vanderbilt LifeFlight and professor of Surgery and chief of the division of Trauma and Surgical Care. Morris developed the flight program at Vanderbilt more than 21 years ago.

– Jeanne Yeatman, R.N., M.B.A., program director of Vanderbilt LifeFlight, and the 2005 Air Medical Program Director of the Year, awarded by the Association of Air Medical Services Air Medical Transportation Association.

– Kevin High, R.N., EMT, a flight nurse with LifeFlight, who is attending the NSTB hearings in

D.C. , and is active on a national level in flight safety and standards.

A study recently published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine shows that improving crashworthiness of helicopters and reducing trips during hazardous conditions can decrease

EMS helicopter fatality rates.

The study authors examined National Transportation Safety Board records of

EMS helicopter crashes between Jan. 1, 1983, and April 30, 2005. During the 22-year study period, 184 occupants died in 182

EMS helicopter crashes. A majority (77 percent) of crashes occurred when weather conditions required pilots to fly primarily by referencing their instruments rather than using outside visual cues. In darkness, 56 percent of crashes were fatal, as compared with 24 percent of crashes not in darkness. One in four

EMS helicopters is likely to crash during 15 years of service. The death rate for EMS flight crew members is 20 times the rate of all workers.

Media Contact:
Jerry Jones

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