HEMS means helicopter emergency medical services. If you live anywhere near a town of more than 100,000 people or so, or have seen a helicopter landing at an accident scene, or the local hospital, you’re seeing HEMS in action. This is an overview of those operations, details on who the operators, pilots, medical staff and assorted other personnel who make those HEMS aircraft fly, and what makes them a vital part of the health care system.
With all the discussion these days about the health care delivery system in this country, it’s likely that at some point various individual systems and operations will come under scrutiny. What’s even more likely, given the expense and highly visible nature of helicopters in the emergency 올인구조대 business, is that those aircraft and the various hospitals which have them will be studied in depth. Fortunately, and I use that term advisedly, helicopters and their utilization in industries of all types have been scrutinized for years, dismissed as ‘royal yachts’, relegated to the peripheral and luxurious category by those who misunderstand their utility. This article attempts to address some of the issues surrounding HEMS aircraft and the various operational considerations that seem to impact the national health care debate.
First, let me advance a disclaimer of sorts. I flew a HEMS operation in Iowa for twenty years. During that time I carried over 3,200 patients aboard my helicopter, in all manner of weather, in sunniest day, and darkest night. I saw every kind of patient known to modern medicine from cardiacs, trauma, medical emergency, electric shock, drowning, neonatal, cancer complications, stabbings, shootings, farm accidents, suicide attempts you name it I flew it. Unless someone has invented a different way to maim themselves since I stopped flying, it’s likely I’ve seen it all. So I can speak with some authority.
That said, I offer this criticism of the industry, just so you know I’m trying to be objective. I’ll be the first ex-HEMS pilot to tell you that there are too many helicopter rescue operations in this country. Nationwide there are over 200 such programs, serving 180 different hospitals, some with fewer than 200 beds. Given the million dollar price tag for a standard single engine aircraft operation, with peripheral personnel and logistics to serve it, it’s no small matter for a hospital to acquire a helicopter. Plus, given the fact that in many cases the helicopter is used to fly patients away from the primary base, effectively subsidizing a larger hospital by serving patients to it, the aircraft can be a money losing proposition. Still, much of modern medicine itself is based on unknown outcomes, and patchwork intervention, so continued use of helicopters certainly isn’t an aberration in that sense. They don’t call it practicing medicine for nothing.