A Look at Medical Helicopter Safety Procedure

Lexington, VA - As the NTSB investigates the crash of a medical helicopter in Tennessee that killed the three crew members on board, we asked a local medical helicopter crew about safety procedures.

Before Carilion Clinic Life-Guard 12 can take off from its Lexington base, the crew must complete a thorough safety checklist. That includes a safety briefing for the patient, if he or she is able to understand, and for passengers. The crew decides if someone needs to fly with the patient, like a parent or translator.

"These are in case we're incapacitated for some reason. In the event of a hard landing or crash, you need to know how to escape yourself," said Shane Watts, a Life-Guard 12 Flight Paramedic.

"We're calling our dispatch when we take off," said Chris Defries, a Life-Guard 12 Pilot. "Every fifteen minutes we give them a call to let them know exactly where we're at."

The aircraft is tracked by satellite while away from base and by video when it lands.

"We also have a three to go, one to say no policy," said Defries. "All three of us in the crew have to agree that it's acceptable to go in order to take off. Only one of us has to have any issue, whatever it may be. If they say hey, no I don't feel right about this, they raise their hand. Then we don't go."

The crew members did not want to speculate on what might have happened to cause that crash, but say their thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Tennessee crew.

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