Commercial, Public Service

Rotorcraft Report: HEMS Risks Clearly Outlined

By Staff Writer | June 1, 2009


Want to understand why the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) sector is running into safety and operational issues? One logical starting point is the HEMS Industry Risk Profile (IRP) just released by the nonprofit Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). It identifies 26 different risk factors affecting HEMS safety in the U.S. today.

According to the HEMS IRP, the most serious risks faced by the sector are being caused by the lack of a coherent national HEMS governance/rule-making system including: inadequate funding of operating, maintenance and replacement costs; differing HEMS licensing on a state-by-state basis; lack of standardized tasking of HEMS resources; incomplete safety management procedures; and lack of a single HEMS oversight body. Other risk factors for HEMS include too many stakeholders lacking a global view of the industry, the lack of defined IFR situational rules, and insufficient use of simulators for crew training. Collectively, the IRP paints a picture of a U.S. HEMS industry that lacks cohesive oversight, regulation and standards.

"Everyone is looking to get to the bottom of why these accidents are happening," said Aerosafe Risk Management CEO Kimberley Turner. Aerosafe is the company that conducted the IRP study for the FSF. "That’s why we developed this document using internationally recognized risk management standards. Our goal is to create an objective, commonly-accepted basis of fact that can be used by all parties for improving HEMS safety."


The complete document can be found online at

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