A helicopter accident in Madison County, MS led to injuries to the pilot and a scared patient and flight crew. Authorities say the emergency landing not only resulted in injuries to occupants but major physical damage to the chopper itself.
Officials with local law enforcement agencies say that the helicopter made a hard emergency landing in someone’s back yard. The owner of the property says he saw the helicopter come in close, making a lot of noise when all of a sudden the helicopter stuttered and stopped, slamming into his field.
Authorities say that a pilot, flight nurse, paramedic and patient were all on board at the time of crash. Emergency responders dispatched police cars, ambulances and more helicopters to the accident scene. Thankfully, authorities say that the pilot of the MedStat helicopter was the only person injured in the accident. The injured patient on board was picked up by another helicopter pilot and transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
The FAA and the NTSB say they are currently investigating the accident. Though it may sound surprising for a medical helicopter to crash, it is unfortunately not as rare as many people might expect.
Though medical helicopters are supposed to save lives, far too often they put flight crew and patients in danger instead. In fact, medical helicopters crash at twice the rate of other air taxis and are hugely more dangerous than commercial airliners. According to recent statistics, medical helicopters have been involved in 264 accidents between 1972 and 2008, accidents that left hundreds of people dead.
There are multiple reasons for the high accident rate among medical helicopters. For one thing, medical choppers accept the most dangerous missions in commercial aviation. They agree to fly unplanned routes, often only a few hundred feet off the ground and below radar. This is why working onboard a medical helicopter is one of the most dangerous professions in America, with a higher fatality rate than commercial fishermen, loggers or steelworkers.
Pilots must make do with landing on highways, mountains, farms, wherever serious accidents occur. Though it might shock most people, many of these medical helicopters also lack basic safety equipment mandatory on other commercial aircraft such as autopilot systems, nigh-vision sight, flight data recorders, detailed weather reporting or ground personnel in charge of flight dispatch or tracking.
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