A helicopter crash killed a surgeon and a technician from a Mayo Clinic in Florida, along with the pilot, as they flew to pick up a heart for transplant recently.
The helicopter, which left the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, never arrived at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said the helicopter went down about 12 miles northeast of Palatka.
The heart could not be used for the transplant because it was no longer viable.
An article that appeared in the magazine Popular Mechanics in July, 2010, quoted Ira Blumen, medical and program director of the University of Chicago Aeromedical Network, who said that “working onboard a medical helicopter is the most dangerous profession in America, with a higher fatality rate than that of fishermen, loggers or steelworkers.”
Medical helicopters often lack basic safety equipment required on other commercial aircraft, and many have no autopilot system or co-pilot to back the pilot in an emergency. Furthermore, medical helicopters are not required to be equipped flight data recorders, terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS), or night-vision goggles, and do not have access to detailed weather reports or ground personnel directing flight dispatch and tracking the aircraft while in flight.