Lee County EMS MedStar implements 40 day “Safety Stand Down”

Lee County EMS MedStar implements 40 day “Safety Stand Down” 23 Jun, 11, Source: Lee County MedStar

Lee County, FL (June 22, 2011) – Lee County Emergency Medical Services (LCEMS) implemented a “stand down” of its MEDSTAR flight operations for a safety review at 7 a.m. Wednesday, June 22. MEDSTAR will resume operations at 7 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1 with its recently acquired Bell 430 helicopter.

Bayflite has agreed to relocate one of its helicopters to Fort Myers to provide air support during the LCEMS MEDSTAR safety stand down. According to Lee County Public Safety Director John Wilson, “Helicopter service will be available to the residents and visitors of Lee County.  We will rely on mutual aid support to assist us during this safety stand down period. Safe operations is our No. 1 priority.”

In August 2009, MEDSTAR 1, an EC 145 helicopter, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico while responding to an incident on Upper Captiva Island. Fortunately, the three crew members survived, but the helicopter was a total loss. In LCEMS’ efforts to restore flight operations back to a pre-crash level, it was determined that a safety stand down would be the most effective way to review the operation. Personnel, operations and administrative recordkeeping will be assessed.

The safety stand down is a common practice in the airline industry, providing the opportunity for a flight program to review all aspects of its operations. Any areas for improvement will be identified and acted upon accordingly. Expert consultants in the air medical industry will be on site to assist with safety training and perform safety audits. In addition, crews will be interviewed and provided with additional counseling for any lingering post-crash issues.  During this time, flight staff, operations staff, communications staff and administration will gather to conduct focused quality and safety reviews.

The 2002 Bell 430 helicopter will provide MEDSTAR with the opportunity to resume its Part 135 instrument flight rules operation that was suspended when the back-up helicopter went into operation after the crash. All of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) post-crash recommendations were incorporated in the aircraft upgrade of the Bell 430.

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