Airbus Helicopters Inc. recognized leaders of the air medical transport industry Tuesday for their efforts to improve safety and quality of service.
BJ Miles, Director of Safety and Risk Management for Life Flight Network in Aurora, Ore., received the Jim Charlson Aviation Safety Award. The award is presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions promoting aviation safety within the air medical transport community.
California Shock Trauma and Rescue, CALSTAR, was named Program of the Year. The award is given each year to an emergency medical services program that has demonstrated superior levels of safety consciousness, patient care, quality leadership, and community and industry service.
Jennifer Hardcastle, Air Medical Sales Manager for Airbus Helicopters Inc., presented the awards at the Air Medical Transport Conference Annual Community Awards event in Charlotte, N.C. “Airbus Helicopters Inc. is proud to recognize the people and companies who strive to improve safety and excellence in the air medical industry,” Hardcastle said. “Together, we celebrate our successes.”
At Life Flight Network, Miles has strengthened the organization’s safety measures and helped shape the provider into a leading example of a comprehensive safety program. Miles led Life Flight to become the first air medical operator in the world to receive Helicopter Association International’s Accreditation Program of Safety, while simultaneously achieving the International Business Aviation Council’s International Standard for Business Aircraft Operators.
Since taking the helm of the department in 2013, Miles developed a company-wide reporting system to quickly address safety reports, determine root causes and reach consensus to implement solutions. He expanded the Air Medical Resource Management training to include communications specialists and aircraft technicians, rather than just flight and ground crews, and representation on the Safety and Risk Committee grew to include a member from every demographic group within the company.
“I am honored to be the 2016 recipient of the Jim Charlson Aviation Safety Award. Life Flight Network’s continued safety achievements would not be possible without the understanding professionalism of our employees and full support of our leadership,” Miles said. “It is an understatement to say I am privileged to work with the best medical crews, pilots, mechanics, communication specialists, and support staff. Our safety successes are a team effort and this award is emblematic that our efforts are moving in the right direction.”
Miles began his aviation career as an aircraft mechanic working on C130s for the U.S. Coast Guard before becoming a pilot of MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, and then an instructor pilot. He attended Aviation Safety Officer School in Pensacola, Fla., and served three years as an Aviation Safety Officer for the Coast Guard. To ensure he is aware of the unique hazards associated with helicopter air medical operations, Miles continues to fly throughout the Pacific Northwest for Life Flight Network.
“BJ’s unique background has provided him with unparalleled insights into the inner workings of an effective safety program,” Life Flight Network CEO Mike Griffiths said. “Every safety officer should be so lucky to have the perspective BJ has earned in his ever continuing career.”
Founded in 1983, CALSTAR is now a leading provider of emergency medical transport services for critically ill or injured patients in California and Northern Nevada. Headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., CALSTAR has safely transported more than 62,000 patients to hospitals and specialized treatment centers.
In 2010, CALSTAR decided to unify the company around a vision to become the premier medical transport provider with an emphasis on safety, excellent patient care, and employee satisfaction. That vision led to initiatives for fleet modernization, branding, education, advancements in medical care and the development of a patient transfer center.
To modernize and standardize its fleet, CALSTAR launched a plan four years ago to replace 24 legacy aircraft with new EC135s and King Air B200s, leading to an estimated savings of $5 million per year in costs related to maintenance, training, and support.
In 2012, the company reorganized its base structure to reduce overlap while also increasing the number of patient transfers. Additionally, CALSTAR designed and implemented a proprietary Performance Management Program that tied financial incentives to both the company’s financial performance and individual performance goals, which helped engage employees in all aspects of the business.
CALSTAR helped lead the drive in California to enact the Emergency Air Medical Transportation Act, which levied a $4 fee to moving traffic violations. That fee now augments Medicaid payments to air medical providers across California, providing a sustainable solution to stagnant Medicaid payments for air medical transports that have not increased in 22 years.
Lynn Malmstrom, President, and CEO of CALSTAR said an excellent safety and service culture helped the company grow from humble beginnings to one of the most respected air ambulance providers on the West Coast. “Our company began 32 years ago with a strong culture of safety and a commitment to providing excellent medical care to our patients,” Malmstrom said. “Today, that culture and commitment continue to thrive, thanks to the hard work of our employees.”
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