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EagleMed resumes medical helicopter flights in Okla. following deadly crash

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 28, 2013, at 12 a.m.

EagleMed, based in Wichita, has resumed critical care medical helicopter flights in McAlester, Okla., following a deadly crash in June that killed a patient and injured the pilot and two crew members.

The company has based another Eurocopter AS350 at the McAlester Regional Health Center to provide service. A medically configured Beechcraft King Air airplane is also based in the McAlester area.

“We are all devastated by the unfortunate event earlier this month,” EagleMed president Larry Bugg said in a statement Thursday. “Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone involved.”

At the same time, “we know the community and Southeastern Oklahoma count on our critical care air medical flights to save lives, so we are thankful to again have helicopter service based at McAlester hospital,” Bugg said in the statement.

An EagleMed helicopter crashed June 11 after taking off from Choctaw Nation Health Care Center near Talihina, Okla. The crash resulted in the death of the patient. Three crew members were injured.

The accreditation of EagleMed has been put on hold and is under review by the nonprofit Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems while an investigation of the crash is conducted.

“The commission’s process is procedural and automatically implemented pending a supplemental site survey by the commission under its policies and procedures,” a statement released by EagleMed president Larry Bugg said.

Accreditation for the medical flight service is voluntary, Bugg said. EagleMed was accredited by the CAMTS for a three-year period in October 2012.

EagleMed received a “best practice for ‘Just Culture’ and special acknowledgment for several medical outcome studies and for implementing fixed wing simulation training with FlightSafety International,” the statement said.

“EagleMed is eager for a follow-up review to occur,” it said. “That review will likely be completed prior to a final report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

This month’s accident was the third fatal EagleMed flight in as many years.

In February 22, 2013, an EagleMed helicopter crashed outside an Oklahoma City nursing home, killing two onboard and critically injuring a third person.

In July 2010, another crash resulted in the death of an EagleMed pilot and a nurse.

EagleMed has served the McAlester region since late 2012. It provides air medical operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by four pilots, four nurses, four paramedics and a maintenance technician.

EagleMed operates 27 locations in nine states. It employs more than 400 and its fleet includes 15 medically equipped Eurocopter AS350 helicopters and 15 Beechcraft King Air fixed-wing airplanes.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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