Flightmed archive for September-2001
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Flightmed archive for September-2001

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Re: Where were you when...

Our helicopter was at home, safely on the hospital's pad. We stayed there
for nearly 36 hrs.

Fairly early on Tuesday, the western region of the FAA gave a dispensation
(I'm sure they had a more technical term for it...) so EMS aircraft could
fly, with restrictions. For the first 48 hrs or so, they wanted a phone
call to local air traffic control, with our name and tail number, intended
destination, names and social security numbers of all crew onboard. By the
afternoon of the 2nd day, it was down to name and tail number of a/c and
intended destination.

We weren't so concerned about the flying part of things. I was frankly more
concerned that if we did fly and then went for fuel, some low-level
beurocrat would see us flying around and over react. But that fear was
unfounded. We called out local airports and asked if they'd have a problem
if we came in for fuel, and they all said no, thanks for letting us know.

Since that flight that crashed in PA was bound for SF, the SF area was on
high alert. Any planes flying around got a F-16 escort into the airport.
Apparently there were some inbound flights from over the Pacific who had
nowhere to divert to, so they landed at SFO under escort around midday.
Then all was quiet.

Except for the bomb threats. There were quite a lot of those, including one
to our hospital. We evacuated all ambulatory patients, including the ED, to
the outer periphery for four hours. That was fun. We sent the aircraft to
an airport for safety, and our ground team assisted with the ED patients.
Nothing was found, thankfully, and we're taking it as a huge learning
experience. As it turns out, we have lots of emergency plans for loss of
the aircraft. We had none, basically, for loss of the communications
office. So that'll be the next set of policies to write. There's always

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who
have suffered these tragic losses. Let's not let these #$%$#% get us down.
Let's band together, take care of patients and fly safely!


Judi Wilson, RN
Acting Program Director
Stanford Life Flight/Medical Transport/Transfer Center


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