Podcast #93 – Aircraft Safety in HEMS with Karen Mahany


Did you know that many of the aircraft that are being used in helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) in the United States are not using advanced safety features that could help save the lives of crews and patients in an accident?  We are joined today by Karen Mahany who has taken it upon herself to make a real change when it comes to safety in HEMS.
Karen Mahany was a flight nurse who is now a CRNA.  She is widow to Patrick Mahany, Jr. who died tragically on July 3, 2015 after an aviation accident where he was the pilot for an Air Methods helicopter.  She has talked about the story before such as with Vertical Magazine, but we got to talk to her live and get a better understanding of some of the details. 

Although the NTSB has been pushing for safety regulations and trying to get changes to happen with the FAA, this thoroughly investigated accident is yet another example of the problems with the current safety regulations in helicopters, especially in air medical services.  After a detailed assessment, the NTSB also made a detailed report and series of recommendations to address these issues including those concerning including the aircraft’s crash-worthiness.

These were all important, but Karen Mahany had a plan to push even harder for change.  She wants to change the current regulation that allows a helicopter like the one flown that day, to have to follow the current guidelines.  Although the helicopter in the crash was manufactured in 2013, it was certified in 1977 and only has to follow the safety regulations from that time.  This means that more current safety regulations do not apply to those helicopters being built today if the original design was certified before the dates those regulations took effect.

Rather than trying to win a lawsuit to promote change, her Karen Mahany’s strategy is one of creating new legislation.  Her primary focus is to help promote a tax credit that would promote both manufacturers and buyers of aircraft to get a helicopter with safer fuel system that will hold up better in the case of an accident.  This includes meeting members of Congress such as Senator John McCain.  Since that time, her legislative draft has been sponsored and they are now working on turning this into a bill.

However, now is the time when we need to start supporting change.  There are multiple ways we can help.  Karen Mahany can be reached via email at SaveOurCrews@gmail.com and you can join her Facebook group,Save Our Crews.  We will try to keep this page updated as this legislation makes it through the steps to hopefully become a bill.

You can also let us know what you think by giving us feedback here in the comments section or contacting us on Twitter or Facebook.  Remember to look us up on Libsyn and on iTunes.  If you have any questions you can also comment below, email at thetotalem@gmail.com, or send a message from the page.  We hope to talk to everyone again soon.  ​Until then, continue to provide total care everywhere.



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