September 30, 2008

NTSB Examines Medical Chopper Crashes

The fatal crash of an emergency medical helicopter in Maryland Saturday shows the need for safety improvements in such flights, U.S. officials say.

Four people were killed when a Maryland State Police chopper on a nighttime emergency flight carrying car crash victims came down in a suburban Washington park during foggy weather. It was the eighth such fatal medical helicopter crash in 12 months, CNN reported Tuesday.

Those figures have prompted officials from the National Transportation Safety Board to call for investigation.

"The safety board is very concerned with the increasing number of these EMS helicopter accidents," NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Sumwalt told the broadcaster. "We have had too many of them. The number is increasing. We need to do something about it. We need to do something about it right now."

The NTSB says some problems associated with medical chopper flights include less stringent requirements, no flight-risk evaluation programs for EMS operations and the lack of consistent and comprehensive flight-dispatch procedures, CNN reported