California Helicopter Aviation Lawyer Discusses the Rash of Ems Helicopter Crashes in the U.s

by R. Sebastian Gibson - Date: 2008-10-13 - Word Count: 750 Share This!

An unexpected catastrophe is happening on the way from horrific accident scenes in California on the way to hospitals in EMS helicopters. The helicopters are crashing killing many of the occupants at an unacceptable rate. If you've been injured in Southern California, whether it is in Laguna Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Orange, or Yorba Linda, in Orange County, or Carlsbad, Oceanside, La Jolla, Del Mar, San Marcos, Vista and Escondido in San Diego, CA or in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Coachella, Yucca Valley or some remote area and it is dark, or in bad weather, your chances of surviving the trip to the hospital may be better in an ambulance.

Deaths as the result of helicopter crashes in the U.S. have been soaring to record levels and the National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating just what is behind this rash of Emergency Medical Service and Police helicopter crashes.

In the past 12 months, 31 people have died in eight crashes. EMS helicopter crashes in the U.S. have become one of the most dangerous areas of aviation and one of the highest accident rates for aviation crashes. This year alone, 24 people have died on medical airlifts.

An NTSB study of EMS helicopter crashes between 1983 and 2005 found that the majority of the crashes occurred - 77 percent as opposed to 31 percent - when weather conditions forced pilots to fly using their instruments rather than by looking outside for visual cues. In darkness, 56 percent of the crashes were fatal as compared to 24 percent when the flight was not in darkness.

That study determined 29 of those 55 accidents could have been avoided. A number of safety issues were identified. Consequently, in 2006, the NTSB issued a special report to address the safety issues of these flights to accident scenes and sought computerized safety equipment, terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) (also referred to as terrain avoidance technology) to warn pilots when they were flying too close to land.

It has been reported that while some progress has been made, none of the NTSB recommendations from that report have been fully implemented.

All but two of the past eight fatal EMS accidents have been at night or in bad weather.

By comparison, the fatal crash rate for ambulances is nothing like it is for helicopters.

Now the U.S. House and the Senate are considering legislation to address these safety issues and place higher standards on the industry.

Until this situation is improved, pilots of EMS helicopters as well as the police and medical personnel on the ground have to take into consideration the condition of the injured persons at accident scenes, the dangerousness of the location, as well as the weather conditions and darkness in determining if the accident victims can be taken to a hospital by ambulance or if the risks warrant the use of an EMS helicopter, both for the safety of the injury victims and the EMS pilots, flight nurses and paramedics.

Veteran EMS pilots say the use of night-vision goggles could improve their safety. But because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is apparently a shortage of these goggles. Fewer than a third of the 800 EMS helicopters in the U.S. have night-vision technology. The wait time for civilian use of the goggles at the largest U.S. manufacturer is six to eight months.

Visit our website at If you've been injured in a helicopter, airplane or aviation accident of any kind, or if you've lost a loved one, we have the knowledge and resources to represent you as your Orange County Aviation Accident Lawyer and your San Diego Aviation Accident Attorney or your attorney in the areas surrounding the cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Twentynine Palms, Indio, La Quinta, San Diego, Orange County, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Orange, La Habra, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Corona del Mar, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Buena Park, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Temecula, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Fullerton, Chico, Imperial, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Ontario, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ana, Santa Maria, Palmdale, Camarillo, Chino, Compton, El Monte, Hawthorne, La Verne, Ramona, Riverside, San Bernardino, Torrance, Upland, Van Nuys, Burbank, Apple Valley, Banning, Big Bear, Borrego Springs, Calexico, Corona, Lompoc, Murrieta/Temecula, Oceanside, Paso Robles, Redlands, Santa Ynez, Hesperia, Joshua Tree, or Yucca Valley.

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Visit our website at if you have been in a helicopter or other aviation accident or have lost a loved one. We have the knowledge and resources to represent you as your California Aviation Accident Lawyer and California Helicopter Accident Attorney or your attorney in the areas surrounding cities such as any of the cities in the Coachella Valley including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Twentynine Palms, Thermal, Indio, Coachella, La Quinta, or cities in San Diego, and Orange County, such as La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, San Clemente, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Buena Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Riverside, Temecula, Yorba Linda or Fullerton.

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