Maryland ambulance crews hesitant to use helicopters

Emergency Management Alert, December 2, 2008

Since a September 28 medical helicopter crash in Prince George County, MD, killed four people, ambulance crews in Maryland have been much more “skittish” about transporting accident victims through the air, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Last week, members of an expert panel took a critical look at the state’s reliance on helicopter transportation, even questioning the validity of “the golden hour” rule that says a victim should be at the hospital within an hour of being injured.
Although panel members were complimentary of the state’s emergency medical system, they did question whether there is too much emphasis on getting victims to the hospital as quickly as possible. One member even questioned whether helicopters are faster than ground ambulances. Some members were also surprised to hear that other states have two paramedics on flights compared to just one in Maryland.
Recent numbers have supported the idea that crews are becoming reluctant to use helicopters. Since the September accident the state has transported 226 patients through the air, on pace for 1,680 in a year. Last year, the state transported more than 4,100 patients through the air.
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