Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Helicopter Crash vs. Ambulance Crash

In the past week there have been a couple of EMS crashes that have made the news.

The first crash is from Maryland on Friday, August 27.

Captain Oscar Garcia, spokesperson for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, says the ambulance had just refueled after dropping off a patient at Shady Grove Hospital and was heading back to Station 3 when for some reason, the ambulance went off the road and down a hill into a ravine on Falls Road near Liberty Lane.[1]

Elsewhere it was reported that the crash was a rollover –

MOI OMG Panic! Double Panic!

Get Me A Helicopter, Yesterday!!!11!!!!

A Rollover!

The four firefighters had minor injuries and were taken to the hospital to be checked out, but they are expected to be ok. The car failed to stop and left the scene.[2]

It seems that somebody on scene decided to actually assess the patients, rather than triage them according to Mechanism Of Idiocy.

The second crash, this morning, did not have such a positive an outcome.

The Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter was flying to pick up a traffic accident victim when it went down near the Scotland community in Van Buren County at about 4:30 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.[3]

Air Evac has experienced several fatal crashes in recent years.

In 2008, an Air Evac helicopter crashed in an Indiana cornfield killing three people. In 2007, another three-member crew was killed when an Air Evac helicopter crashed in Colbert County, Ala.

In 2006, an Air Evac helicopter crashed in Gentry in northwest Arkansas, killing the three-member crew.

Last month, an Air Evac helicopter made a forced landing near Tulsa, Okla., after the aircraft’s hydraulics failed. No one was hurt.

(This version corrects to delete information on a crash in western Tennessee; that helicopter did not belong to Air Evac.)[3]

At least the patient was not yet on board.

There is no information provided about what kind of injuries the patient was being flown for – that is assuming the patient actually was injured and not being flown for MOI (Mechanism Of Idiocy) by a protocol monkey.

Maybe the patient did have serious injuries, but considering that most patients sent to the trauma center by helicopter do not have serious injuries, betting on serious injuries would be a bad bet.

Our study demonstrated that the majority of trauma patients transported by medical helicopter from the scene had nonlife-threatening injuries.[4]

Our findings are similar to other studies that have documented that a significant number of trauma patients transported from the scene to a hospital by medical helicopter do not receive any added benefit from helicopter transport.[4]

Even though these patients receive no benefit from being transported by helicopter, these patients are exposed to significant risk and exaggerated costs.

This is the difference in outcome between a rollover crash of an ambulance and a crash of a helicopter.

Rollover crash

Minor injuries. None of the patients transported by helicopter.

Helicopter crash

Dead Pilot.

Dead Flight Medic.

Dead Flight Nurse.

The patient being transported by someone else.

Air Evac has identified the crew members who died in the crash as pilot Ken Robertson, flight paramedic Gayla Gregory, and flight nurse Kenneth Meyer, Jr.[5]

Helicopter services do not even seem to care how many of their employees and patients they kill.[6]


[1] Four Hurt In Maryland Ambulance Accident – All onboard suffered non life-threatening injuries.

[2] Ambulance Rollover Injures 4

[3] Three Dead In Arkansas Medical Chopper Crash – Medevac was enroute to pick up a patient.
Chuck Bartels
Associated Press
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Article at JEMS.com

[4] Helicopter scene transport of trauma patients with nonlife-threatening injuries: a meta-analysis.
Bledsoe BE, Wesley AK, Eckstein M, Dunn TM, O’Keefe MF.
J Trauma. 2006 Jun;60(6):1257-65; discussion 1265-6. Review.
PMID: 16766969 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Full Text PDF

[5] Medical helicopter went down near Scotland in Van Buren Co.
Pictures are also from here.

[6] Not Clear On The Concept
Too Old To Work, Too Young To Retire



  1. Rollover crashes can be catastrophic if seatbelts are not being used. The fact that four people emerged from a rollover crash with only minor injuries likely (and I am speculating) means they were all wearing seatbelts and their minor injuries were caused by being hit by unsecured equipment (more speculation).

  2. Valuable info. Lucky me I found your site by accident, I bookmarked it.

  3. World Wide News Flash,

    Thank you.


  1. Helicopter Crash vs. Ambulance Crash | Rogue Medic…

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  2. […] main event at Rogue Medic this week pits Helicopter Crashes vs. Ambulance Crashes. I’m putting an Abe Lincoln on the diesel […]

  3. […] Mechanism Mon, 06 Sep 2010 14:24:22 +0000 By Rogue Medic Leave a Comment In response to my post Helicopter Crash vs. Ambulance Crash, there is a comment by Greg Friese. Rollover crashes can be catastrophic if seatbelts are not being […]