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By Randle Corfman
President, Mn Pilots Association 

Hangar Flying

We Thank You


August 1, 2019

I would like to take a few moments to give thanks to those who are part of our airborne emergency medical service teams. The recent tragedy at Brainerd brought forth the reality that the flight crew puts themselves in harms way to make a difference in our lives.

Living in the great Country that we do makes us somewhat oblivious to the services that are provided by our medical system. It isn’t a perfect system, I understand. Things can and do go wrong. In cases such as the Brainerd tragedy something went terribly awry, and I am sure that soon the NTSB report will provide some answers that may serve to induce changes to make this a safer operation.

In the meantime there are some families who are missing their loved ones, there are nurses and pilots who will miss working beside those who were taken away from us with the crash.

I have a dear friend who flies EMS helicopters in another state. He has been doing this for quite some time and I would bet he is very good at it. I have had the good fortune of sitting around the campfires at various fly-ins with him and getting the chance to hear something about what he and his EMS crew does. They are a tight-knit group, it seems, and when things get tough they stick together and perform, often in less than comfortable circumstances. They do so, in my opinion, not because it pays really well but rather because they have a calling, so to speak, to use their gifts and skills to help those in need. They may launch in less than ideal conditions, any time of day or night, not really knowing what to expect when they arrive to care for a victim. They hope that the law enforcement/EMS teams at the pickup sight has safely prepared a landing zone for them to land…not often do they have the luxury of landing on a helipad, or at an airport. Wires and obstructions make their job inherently dangerous. These airborne crews depend upon the good judgement of the pilot, and that responsibility weighs heavily on those who sit in the pilot’s seat.

I have been concerned with the fact that these people are seeing some pretty devastating accidents, and yet we ask them to come in with equipment and clinical skills in the field, we ask the pilot to deal with wind and rain and who knows what else to make a positive difference in the victim’s lives. It is no wonder that post-traumatic stress syndrome is now being identified as a reason for crippling problems later in their careers.

So, to those who serve as crew for the airborne EMS systems, we, as pilots, salute you. We thank you for your service and dedication. Our hearts go out to you for your losses and we wish you strength as you continue to serve us. Thank you.


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