Medical Helicopters Using New Technology To Increase Safety

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Christine Zalar knows how dangerous medical helicopter flights can be.

As a flight nurse in Texas in 1985, she was on a helicopter that flew into telephone wires, injuring her and three others.

She's now president and chief executive officer of Kansas City, Missouri.-based LifeFlight Eagle.

Zalar says new technology and increased safety awareness by crews means such accidents can be easier to avoid.

The medical helicopter industry is growing fast and experiencing more fatal accidents.

That's prompting air ambulance services and the National Transportation Safety Board to look at ways to increase safety.

The board encourages the use of night vision goggles and terrain systems that warn pilots when they're in danger of crashing into something.

Last year was particularly deadly for medical helicopters, and safety investigators say night flying was a factor in some cases.

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