EMS working group attack pressures to fly

EMS working group attack pressures to fly 20 Jan, 10, Source: NEMSPA

A new working group of the air medical transport industry met on this date to formulate a strategy to identify and mitigate the pressures that may be placed on air medical crew members to accept or continue a flight under conditions of elevated risk.

The project is part of the No-Pressure Initiative sponsored by the National EMS Pilots Association (NEMSPA) and is funded, in part, by the $10,000 Vision Zero award sponsored by American Eurocopter and awarded to NEMPA at the annual Air Medical Transport Conference in San Jose, CA last October.

Representatives from what are known as the air medical “alphabet groups” are collaborating on the project. The principal acronyms represented were (in alphabetical order) AAMS (Association of Air Medical Services), AMOA (Air Medical Operators Association), ACCT (Association of Critical Care Transport), ASTNA (Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association), IAFP (International Association of Flight Paramedics), and NAACS (National Association of Air medical Communications Specialists. While a representative from AMPA (Air Medical Physicians Association) was unable to attend, that group has been very supportive of the project. Other interested parties present included a consultant from the FAA, and J. Heffernan, Director of Safety for the Helicopter Association International (HAI). Dr. Mark Rosekind, an internationally recognized expert on sleep and fatigue issues affecting workers who provide 24/7 services, attended the gathering and contributed an unbiased perspective to the discussions.

Facilitated by Dr. Frank Thomas, the group utilized a highly structured formal process to identify the universe of sources of adverse pressures on air medical flight crews. The results of that process will serve as the foundation to develop a survey to be presented to the nation-wide air medical transport community. The survey will gather data to clearly identify and quantify the factors that are most influential on air crews and are most likely to result in the kind of flawed decision making that could lead to a preventable aircraft accident. The results of the survey will be made available to air medical transport industry stakeholders nationwide. In the next phase of the project, the data will be used to guide the development and deployment of mitigations aimed at eliminating or counteracting the pressures that are identified.

Periodic updates on the progress of the project will be posted on the NEMSPA web site at www.nemspa.org.

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