Safety has been a major concern for the air ambulance industry in the United States despite stringent regulations that govern them. The FAA has constantly demanded for more secure operations and the industry has generally complied with such dictates. However, some things are completely out of the purview of the governing bodies. Once such factor is weather. It is for the crew and the air ambulance company to decide whether it is safe enough to venture out. This time around, it was a helicopter that was headed towards Seward after taking off from Anchorage. The weather was not ideal for the medical flight but the company had gone ahead.
Was it a Case of Air Ambulance Shopping?
Air ambulance shopping is a practice that is highly prevalent in the industry. When one provider refuses to carry a patient due to adverse weather condition, the hospital usually contacts another. In this case, two medical flight organizations had been contacted earlier but had refused to take the patient from Seaward, mainly because the weather was simply not congenial to do so. Some of them had offered to carry the patient the next day. It is still not exactly certain why Medevac Alaska had taken the call to go on the mission.
The Crew Did Not Survive
The crew consisted of highly experienced pilot, Glen Morthorpe. He was 76 years of age and had over 35,000 flying hours under him. Glen was Director of Operations at Security Aviation, a company that rented aircrafts to Medevac Alaska. Along with him, the two crew members – Rob Carter who was a registered nurse and Maddox Burts who was an MICP – also lost their lives. Several air ambulance companies in the area confirmed that they had declined to fly that day due to the prevailing weather conditions. However, none of them were willing to confirm whether they had declined to fly the patient in question from Seward.