Air ambulance rescues often occur in extreme conditions. It could be in the middle of heavy traffic or in a terrain that is hardly visited by people. Then, there are night rescues and adverse weather conditions. The crew and the pilot need to work in not-so-favorable conditions many a time.
The above factors make it less of a surprise that air ambulance vehicles have twice the fatality rate when compared to the rest of the aviation sector. The discovery was recently made by research that factored in over 100,000 flight hours, over a period of 35 years. It was conducted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The university’s study involved 127 people who lost their lives and 94 people who were injured due to air ambulance mishaps.
Factors Behind Air Ambulance Fatality Rate
One statistic that stands out is as follows: air ambulance choppers flying at night are 3.6 times more likely to result in fatalities if a crash occurs. In this context, it must be noted that air ambulance pilots today are equipped with night vision equipment. This equipment has been mandated by government agencies to curb the crash risk.
Another factor highlighted by the research was that a post-crash fire increases the chance of fatality by 18.73 times, in comparison to air ambulance crashes where there was no fire. It is for this reason that emergency services that reach the crash site first try to get the fuel situation neutralized so that there is no explosion.
Here, one must note that airplanes and helicopters make use of high-grade fuel. These are extremely combustible. This fuel can quickly expand and explode when exposed to heat and friction. Saying that such a situation results in a fatality is stating the obvious. The helicopter manufacturers today are actively looking at avenues to make fuel systems fire-resistant.