Recently, a medical helicopter made a crash landing in Madison County, injuring the pilot, terrifying the patient and crew, damaging the helicopter, and startling a local man. The helicopter, a MedStat chopper, was carrying a crew of three and a patient. The helicopter left the Pioneer Hospital in Ackerman and headed toward the Baptist Hospital. While in the air, evidently, some mechanical problems occurred. The pilot of the chopper managed to make an emergency landing in someone’s backyard.
Don Forbush, of Madison County, suddenly heard what sounded like a loud plane getting closer and closer to his home. He rushed to the front door, but saw nothing. Moments later, police cars, ambulances, and two or three other helicopters arrived. It was then he realized a helicopter had crashed in his backyard.
The four individuals aboard the MedStat chopper were transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Thankfully, the patient was not further injured in the crash and the crew remained unharmed. The pilot was the only individual injured in the crash and is expected to recover. Butch Hammock, director of the Madison Emergency Management, commended the pilot’s landing, stating that he saved the lives of the passengers aboard.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the accident. While it may seem surprising for a medical helicopter crash to occur, statistics show that these crashes are not a rarity. Between 1972 and 2008, medical helicopters have been involved in 264 accidents. These accidents resulted in numerous injuries and deaths.
Recently, in neighboring Tennessee, another medical helicopter crash made headline news. A medical helicopter was flying to rescue a sick child in Tennessee. The chopper crashed around 6 a.m. near Somerville, the midway point between Memphis and the crew’s intended destination. It appeared to plummet from the sky, landing in a thickly wooded area and disintegrating upon impact. Tragically, all three individuals on board were killed in the helicopter accident. The cause of the accident is still under investigation and the FAA hopes to have answers soon.
Over the last 16 years, annual deaths from medical helicopter crashes have been as low as three and has high as 18. So far this year, 12 fatalities have occurred. It is the first time medical helicopter deaths have reached double digits since 2010.
There are numerous reasons behind the relatively high rate of medical helicopter crashes. For one thing, medical helicopters often accept more dangerous missions than other commercial aircrafts. They fly to rescue patients with very little notice, often on unplanned routes, and must frequently fly only a few hundred feet off the ground. They are often forced to land in precarious places, such as mountains, fields, farms, and on highways. These medical helicopters also lack many of the safety features of other commercial aircrafts. Most are not equipped with autopilot systems, flight data recorders, detailed weather reporting, or night-vision sight. They further lack the assistance of ground personnel who control flight dispatch and track planes.
It is a dangerous profession to fly or work on medical helicopters. This career has higher fatality rates than even loggers and steelworkers. Medical helicopter pilots and crewmembers serve a vital purpose, however—they save lives, each and every day. Medical helicopters are crucial in the rescue of severely injured or ill patients.
The Giddens Law Firm represents victims of all forms of accidents, including helicopter and plane crashes. At the Giddens Law firm, our team of professional accident attorneys will fight zealously to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 601-355-2022 to schedule a free initial consultation.